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Thread: NAFTA - Okay for Canadians to work in the US, but not the other way around?

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    NAFTA - Okay for Canadians to work in the US, but not the other way around?

    Local government agencies in the United States often hire urban planners who are Canadian citizens. On the Canadian Institute of Planners page, there's a list of handy tips for Canadian urban planners who are seeking work in the United States.

    Unfortunately, it seems nearly impossible for American planners to find work in Canada. From what I've seen on the Web, almost every local government in Canada has "must be a Canadian citizen" as a requirement for employment.

    So ... why do Canadians seem to have unlimited access to job opportunities in the United States, including local governments, while Canadian local governments apparently prohibit the employment of United States citizens? We get Canada's comedians, newscasters and planners ... how come we Yanks can't go north of the border? Don't Canadians have to honor Appendix 1603.D.1 of NAFTA?

    Nerudite ... how'd you get up north? Forged papers and a fake accent?
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    My best friend worked in Toronto and was deported! He was a professional photographer and worked for his sister's modeling agency. The official reason for his deportation was "revokation of work permit". His permit was revoked at the time because of high local unemployment. Ironically, his sister never hired a replacement so all his deportation accomplished was a reduction in local spending (his).

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    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Damn Canucks!!

    Only good for one thing and that's hockey.

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    Cyburbian El Feo's avatar
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    There are Americans that WANT to work in Canada?

    Just kidding. Of course there are - planners especially - no nasty Fifth Amendment takings clause to deal with!

    Originally posted by Mike DeVuono
    Damn Canucks!!

    Only good for one thing and that's hockey.
    Their beer's passable, too. I promise not to use this as an opportunity to start the donut debate again.
    "The fanatical Muslims despise America because it's all lapdancing and gay porn; the secular Europeans despise America because it's all born-again Christians hung up on abortion; the anti-Semites despise America because it's controlled by Jews. Too Jewish, too Christian, too Godless, America is also too isolationist, except when it's too imperialist." -- Mark Steyn

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    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Hmmmmm...

    How did I get up here? I applied for the first job that I saw in the Edmonton Journal and got the job. It asked for a lot of things... CIP Membership, experience in Alberta, etc. I just ignored that and explained why I'm still the best for the job in my cover letter. I stressed the AICP reciprocity agreements for the CIP Membership and indicated that I would be more than happy to take the Canadian test when I arrived. It seemed to do the trick. I know of a few other people in Alberta that have come up from the States... but because of the currency difference, I don't think most Americans *want* to come up here.

    Any particular areas you are looking for? I can keep an eye out.

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    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Get 'em

    Dan,
    I was in the Overland Park Super Target (not a big box, but a Huge Freaking Box with lots of appeal) this weekend and I saw a pair of snowshoes for $40. You want me to pick 'em up for you. If you get to Canada and you don't have them they will laugh at you. Canadians, and Canadian wanna be's are like that.

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    Cyburbian
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    Work in Canada?

    Although many places ask for membership with CIP and Canadian citizenship, not always a must. It just seems to be that most planners in the U.S. do not go north, seems to be more Canadians going south.

    So where are you looking for a job in Canada?

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    maudit anglais
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    I don't think I've ever seen a planning job here that required Canadian citizenship. As Nerudite mentioned, the APA/CIP reciprocal agreements should give you a boost - maybe APA has some tips on employment outside the U.S.

    The Canadian planning job market is quite hot right now, at least in southern Ontario.

    We have a few Yanks about - I'll have to ask how they managed to sneak in.

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Originally posted by Tranplanner
    I don't think I've ever seen a planning job here that required Canadian citizenship.
    From the CIty of Toronto Web site

    Who can apply?
    You must be between the ages of 16 and 65, and you must be either a Canadian citizen, permanent resident (landed immigrant), or hold a valid work permit.


    How do I get a work permit? I think the agency doing the hiring has to extend an offer before you get the permit.

    Where am I looking to work? Either the GTA, Golden Horseshoe area, Edmonton, or Calgary. Maybe Ottawa. I can read French but not speak it, so that rules out Quebec. Winnipeg is in rough shape, from what I've heard. I don't think I could afford BC on a planner's salary.

    If I can get into Australia ...
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Originally posted by Dan

    I can read French but not speak it
    Yes, I understand mugbub's avatar too!

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    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    You are correct in that the agency that is hiring you must provide you with a letter of hire prior to you receiving your work permit from immigration. You may want to call the HR Department and explain this to them. I talked to the HR department in St. Albert before applying, and it didn't seem to be a problem. Once you explain that urban planners are included in the NAFTA, and that issuance of a work permit can be done in 15 minutes at the airport (or any other immigration office), it shouldn't be a concern in most cases.

  12. #12
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Originally posted by nerudite
    Once you explain that urban planners are included in the NAFTA, and that issuance of a work permit can be done in 15 minutes at the airport (or any other immigration office), it shouldn't be a concern in most cases.
    When you applied, was there anything you had to do that went above and beyond what you do in applying for a job in the States? Did you get hit with a "we can only hire you if there's no qualified Canadians" type requirement? Are you covered by the provincial health care plan?

    I'm going to go a bit further and ask .. do you qualify for Canadian citizenship?
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    No, I didn't have that problem. Canadian businesses that want to hire non-Canadians are required to register the position with HRDC and state that no other Canadian was qualified for the position and how the non-Canadian meets their needs. However, this does not apply to professional positions listed under NAFTA. All you need is a copy of your offer of employment, your passport, and a copy of your degree... and the processing fees of course.

    Many websites probably say "open only to landed immigrants" only because many positions require the Federal government (HRDC) buy off prior to hiring a non-Canadian. If you were to talk to the HR Departments prior to applying and explain the new regulations under NAFTA, they may change their mind for a planning position. If at any time you talk to someone who has never dealt with NAFTA and they want to talk to someone who went through the process, I would be happy to talk to them or I can provide you with the name of the HR rep that worked with me from the City of St. Albert.

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    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Oh... your second question.

    No, I don't qualify for Canadian citizenship. This is the way it works:

    1) First you can get your work permit. The work permit is tied to one particular job/employer.

    2) If you want, you can apply for Permanent Resident Status (which will allow you to switch jobs/professions without being booted out of the country). This process takes about 18 months from time of application to time of decision... just like most development permits in California.

    3) Once you receive Permanent Resident Status (aka you are a landed immigrant) you must live in Canada for three whole years before applying for citizenship.

    Right now, I'm only as far as #1. I've been putting my application for #2 together for the past six months (I'm awaiting responses from my fingerprint searches with the FBI and all the states I have lived in, which needs to be submitted with the application). So in a months or so I should be ready to submit my application. So in about five years I may be ready for #3.

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    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Originally posted by Dan


    Are you covered by the provincial health care plan?


    Yup, provincial health is included. I'm not doing so well at answering these questions all in one post... sorry!

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    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Are you covered by the provincial health care plan?
    But the private health care you are receiving in the States right now may be of a higher quality and easier to access.

    If you move to ALTA they are trying to figure out a way around the Canada Health Act, so you may have better quality. If you decide to live outside of a major centre and have health concerns ask what the Doctor situation is like. Even though I am Canadain, i learned this last one the hard way - 2 years and still waiting for a family Dr.

    How I love the walk in clinic when i'm really sick.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

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    maudit anglais
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    I worked in Sudbury for almost three years, and the only way you could get a family doctor up there was if you were native, or French. I hate clinics, so I just suffer.

    And hey - I knew the rash would eventually go away.

    BTW, Dan - Nerudite's story checks out with the Ameriplanner here, so I won't bother repeating it all for you. Doesn't look like it would be that hard for you to come up north after all.

  18. #18
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Originally posted by nerudite
    Oh... your second question.

    No, I don't qualify for Canadian citizenship. This is the way it works:
    (snip)
    If I had an award for "post of the week," this one would get it. Thanks for the information!
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  19. #19
    maudit anglais
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    Dan, if you're interested in Canadian Citizenship I have a couple of single sisters-in-law who might be willing to help out...

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    Cyburbian geobandito's avatar
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    US planner moving to Canada

    I may be moving to the Hamilton, ON, area later this year because my wife may be starting a PhD program at McMaster. I saw this thread from 2002 and wondered if the conditions were still about the same.

    How is the job market for planners in Ontario? Is it difficult for Americans to get hired into Canadian planning jobs? Where's the best place to look for job openings? Are there any Canadian planning message boards?

    Thanks for any help you might have!

  21. #21
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by geobandito
    I may be moving to the Hamilton, ON, area later this year because my wife may be starting a PhD program at McMaster. I saw this thread from 2002 and wondered if the conditions were still about the same.

    How is the job market for planners in Ontario? Is it difficult for Americans to get hired into Canadian planning jobs? Where's the best place to look for job openings? Are there any Canadian planning message boards?

    Thanks for any help you might have!
    It's still about the same as when I posted all of this. Getting a job in Ontario may be a bit difficult for anyone not familiar with their legislation. I would start reading through the legislation and know it cold before your start your interviews. Being AICP helps, as there is a reciprocity agreement with CIP (the Canadian equivalent). The easiest place to find a job from outside Canada would be the Prairie Provinces, especially Alberta and Saskatchewan. Alberta has a ton of jobs that we are having difficulty filling, and Saskatchewan has a hard time attracting planners (so much so that they hire a lot of people from South Africa and some municipalities do special advertising down there). Donk and Tranplanner may have more insight into Ontario in particular. But as the resident American in Canuckistan, feel free to PM me if you have more questions.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by el Guapo
    Dan,
    I was in the Overland Park Super Target (not a big box, but a Huge Freaking Box with lots of appeal) this weekend and I saw a pair of snowshoes for $40. You want me to pick 'em up for you. If you get to Canada and you don't have them they will laugh at you. Canadians, and Canadian wanna be's are like that.
    I've lived in Canada my entire life and don't know a single person who owns snowshoes. *shrug*

    As for getting hired in Canada, I don't really think its much different, Dan. You quote: "You must be between the ages of 16 and 65, and you must be either a Canadian citizen, permanent resident (landed immigrant), or hold a valid work permit."

    OK, so that's not a requirement to be a citizen. I'm sure Canadians working in the USA need to get a work permit of some sort as well, but there is undoubtedly a different system of work permitting in each country. At first glance it might look like a catch-22 in that you need a work-permit to work, but cant get a work-permit until you have job lined up... but that isn't necessarily a problem. That's what cover letter explanations are for. Other posters in this thread have gave some great advice about mentioning CIP equivalencies, et al.

    Toronto is a hellhole. So are its immediate surroundings. Stay away. Planning for the Province of Ontario, what with their green buffer thing or whatever they've called it, is quite hot right now.

    Ottawa is nice, but its crawling with politicians.

    Edmonton and Calgary are on fire. BC is also on fire.

    As for Quebec it wouldn't matter if you could speak French, anyways. You won't get hired unless you're actually French-Canadian. Pretty common discrimination in hiring for public service jobs, well, actually for most jobs. There is a joke in Canada where three crazy maritime fishermen find a genie in a lamp, and they each get one wish. One of them wishes for something stupid, like a fish. The second fellow, a Quebecois, wishes for a wall around Quebec to keep out the anglais. And then the other fellow asks the genie if the wall is watertight, to which the genie replies "yes, surely." "OK, fill it up," quips the 3rd fellow.

    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    When you applied, was there anything you had to do that went above and beyond what you do in applying for a job in the States? Did you get hit with a "we can only hire you if there's no qualified Canadians" type requirement? Are you covered by the provincial health care plan?

    I'm going to go a bit further and ask .. do you qualify for Canadian citizenship?
    Technically, everyone is covered by health care. However, those able to must pay health premiums (this is most people and would certainly be you, with the sort of money planners make). For those on welfare, for example, health premiums are waived.

    I know that health fees in different provinces work very differently, though. I'm used to BC, where you don't have to pay for an ambulance. In Ontario, you have to pay for your ambulance rides. It seems that you can safely ignore the bill, though, and they don't generally chase you for it. It's a strange adjustment. In general, Ontario also has less items covered by health premiums than other provinces do, I've found.

    As far as I know there is no difference in health premiums paid by Canadian citizens vs. American citizens with work permits. A working Canadian and a working American both pay the same amount into the system, as far as I know.

    Although most of this discussion is moot anyways because you will have health benefits if employed by a city.
    Last edited by Tranplanner; 07 Feb 2005 at 1:59 PM.

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    Just do what i'm going to do and marry a Canadian.

  24. #24
    maudit anglais
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    Quote Originally posted by abrowne
    Toronto is a hellhole. So are its immediate surroundings. Stay away.
    If you say so. I work for the City and I think it's a great place.

    I'm not too current on the job market in Southern Ontario right now, but I think it's alright. Do you have a specific planning interest?

  25. #25
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    I should have been more specific - sorry to slam your city . Taken by itself, the core, Toronto is quite nice and a functional city; very pleasant (even the smog seems to blow out towards the burbs). But it doesn't seem right to judge a city solely on its core - its periphery reflects greatly on the whole. It seems that once you are out of that immediate core you may as well be on another planet. Greater Toronto is where the trouble begins. Mississauga, Brampton, Scarborough, Richmond Hill, Markham, et al. Eugh.

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