Factors motivating migration

Dear Mr Brown,
I read an article the other day which stated that Jamaicans account for 45 per cent of the 47,000 Caribbean nationals who have migrated to Canada since 2015. I can’t believe the percentage is so high. I guess it is based on the free health care and wealth of Canada in addition to the high crime rate and poverty in Jamaica that is pushing us away. I want to know your thoughts and whether you think the trend will stop when Vision 2030 is realised.


Dear BV,

Unfortunately, I am not an expert regarding Vision 2030 to be able to respond to that aspect of your query. Regarding the push and pull factors about migration from Jamaica to Canada, I have 13 years of experience and anecdotal evidence as I deal with thousands of potential migrants every year. I can state that I have never heard health care specifically mentioned as a motivating factor for emigrating from Jamaica, although that may be under the category of standard of living.

However, many migrants mention economic challenges, employment (type of work, wages, employment rights) and high crime rates in Jamaica. Most migrants just speak of a general desire for peace of mind in an orderly, safe and structured society that offers equal opportunity to all. They just want a change and believe that their lives will be easier living in a different country with less obstacles and more solutions to address the struggles of life.

It should be emphasised that Canadians have one of the highest debt burdens in the world. We enjoy a very high standard of living. However, the payment for our consumption is done largely through credit. We are able to handle life’s emergencies as well as splurges and sprees on credit. For example, it is possible to literally walk into a store and establish zero per cent financing for 50 months to purchase furniture and appliances.

Like other first world nations, leasing vehicles inexpensively is another beneficial experience for many individuals. Special mortgage rates can be as low as 1.55 per cent. The only point I am making is that it is not that Canadians are all wealthy, but people have access to money for spending. Of course, this can lead to financial difficulties as well, with a lack of discipline. Moreover, a new study has suggested that the economic security of Canada, though having one of the best retirement pension plans, has led to high consumer debt levels. 

Canada vs United States

Canadian and American citizenship offer similar rights and entitlements.

Some studies have suggested the following:

• Canadians have a high level of life satisfaction and work-life balance.

• Canadians have lower rates of suicide.

• The health care costs per person are much lower in Canada.

• Canadians enjoy longer maternity and paternity leave.

• Canadians have high educational attainment in general and lower socioeconomic groups in particular.

• The income disparity is much lower, while the net worth of the average Canadian household is higher. This is due to differences in wealth distribution. The United States is, by far, wealthier and more powerful.

• Social mobility is higher in Canada as measured by intergenerational changes. 

The benefits and opportunities are very similar in both countries. Employment opportunities and income are very similar for the average citizen.

However, some significant differences include:

• Health care is cheaper in Canada.

• Post-secondary education is much lower in Canada. The vast majority of students attend public schools paid by taxes. Post-secondary education is subsidised by the provincial governments for Canadian residents. Canada also has a wider social safety net provided by government services.

In summary, Canadians may pay less for larger-life events, such as health and education, while Americans pay remarkably less for day-to-day expenses such as food, merchandise and so forth. 


Canada has a more tolerant temperament towards immigrants. To foster assimilation, Canada also seems to place more emphasis on admitting newcomers that are deemed to be capable of economic contribution based mainly on:

• Educational attainment;

• Skilled work experience;

• The ability to address labour shortages;

• Age;

• Official language proficiency (English and/or French); and

• Canadian experience.

This paradigm is contrasted with the United States as placing emphasis on sponsorship from family members, which some critics have opined is a more arbitrary approach to shaping the population. 

Please visit JAMAICA2CANADA.COM for additional information on Canadian Permanent Residence programs, including Express Entry, The Study & Work program, Visas or Appeals, etc.

Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC, is an immigration counsel and an accredited Canadian education agent of JAMAICA2CANADA.COM — a Canadian immigration & education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments to documents.jamaica2canada@gmail.com

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