Canada is geographically vast with a relatively small population. This disparity is emphasized by its population distribution: two out of three Canadians live 100 kilometres or less from the Canadian border, which represents only four percent of Canada’s total land mass. It is not surprising then that many areas in Canada are considered comparatively remote.
Why do so many Canadians choose to live in such a small area of the country? The reasons are many: areas close to the border tend to have a milder climate, most of the country’s large urban centers are located in the South, people tend to stay in areas where they have strong social ties, and being near to border enables people to trade with America more easily.
Yet, population density does not always equal better job opportunities. In fact, the opposite is sometimes true. The Northwest Territories and the Yukon, which make up the northernmost areas in Canada, both have unemployment rates that are consistently below the national average. According to the most recent Labour Market Bulletins Northern Alberta, including the Grande Prairie-Peace River and Wood Buffalo-Cold Lake regions, have unemployment rates well below the national average, as does the Cariboo region in BC (though, it should also be noted that the Maritime provinces are not havens of population density but nonetheless suffer unemployment rates significantly higher than the national average).
Canada is rich in natural resources (the latest figures indicate that they drive almost 20 percent of the nation’s economy) and most of the job opportunities they provide are in remote areas. This does not only include opportunities that are directly related to natural resources. Communities of every size need infrastructure, which means there are a variety of opportunities across all sectors. Professions that are particularly in high demand include those related to trades and construction, and the service sector.
There are numerous advantages to working in remote areas of Canada. High population densities in Canada’s major urban centers often mean greater competition for jobs. This is particularly relevant for new graduates, as they have comparatively limited work experience, and are looking for entry-level positions in their field. Because vacancies are more difficult to fill in remote areas, they can be great opportunities for new graduates to build experience. Some companies will even provide additional training for candidates who are interested in working in remote or rural areas.
Depending on the field of work, some employers do not require permanent relocation when it to remote areas. Instead, employees work a rotating schedule. Two weeks on and one week off is quite common. In these cases employers usually pay for transportation costs, accommodations and meals. Accommodations, sometimes referred to as camps, are more often like hotels, and include amenities such as private rooms, gyms, and dining rooms. Not only does this significantly reduce basic costs of living, it is also a great option for people who want to minimize time away from their families.
Saving on cost of living is one way that working in remote areas can prove financially beneficial. In many cases employers will also pay a supplement or bonus, in addition to regular wages, as further incentive. This can be especially useful for new graduates who are looking to reduce their student debt, or save money for a larger purchase, such as a house or car.
Working in Canada’s remote areas is not for everyone. Some people simply prefer the hustle and bustle of city life and the myriad amenities and comforts it may offer. But, with 95 percent of Canada’s land mass considered rural or remote, those with an adventurous spirit may well be tempted to explore our immense country. And of course, strong job prospects and higher than average pay are great incentives as well.