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Author Topic: Compare US-Canada offers  (Read 3051 times)
jforester
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« on: December 12, 2012, 9:26:50 PM »

I am on a t-t job in history but have decided to leave the current position at a pretty good university in the US Midwest. It's my fifth-year here but didn't start the tenure process as my book did not come out in time. My mentors have also advised me on the move although I would have done it any way. I already have a new offer in the US and Canada each (+ a handful of interviews lined up) and am having hard time to begin making sense of those offers. Both give me three years of credit toward tenure; teaching and service expectations are similar; and the institutions are also similar (doctoral-granting, research). The US job is in a Northeastern metropolis and the one in Canada is in Ontario (not in Toronto, though). Start-up funds and computing plus research support, including the sabbatical, are also similar. One major difference is salary. My current pay is in mid-sixties; the new US offer adds a couple of thousands on that while the Canadian offer is 20k higher.  I will be receiving those offers in writing in the next couple of days. Even if I am lucky enough to get additional offers, I suspect that some of these facts and issues will stay the same.
Given my situation, what issues should I consider before making my decisions? What questions should I ask? I would appreciate any and all input.
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anon99
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« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2012, 11:04:33 PM »

Being Canadian, I am biased.  Factors to think about: annual salary increments (from what I've read on the forum, they don't seem to be as common in the US), cost of living, quality of living, teaching load, general atmosphere of the department and university.  Assuming you have graduate students (or will have), what funding is available to them?  More importantly is research funding available to you?  There are a number of Americans who are at Canadian universities, so they can better tell you about living in Canada.  While it is similar to the US, it is NOT the same.
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galway
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« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2012, 12:38:31 AM »

There may also be more funding opportunities for your research in Canada.  I'm not sure about the social science funding rates in the U.S. vs. Canada but in STEM the federal funding rates in Canada are much higher than in the states and in general there seems to be more fellowship support for students.  It's worth asking about the pay in that sabbatical - what percent will they cover?  You should also ask about the university support for the immigration process - do they provide lawyers and cover costs?  Do they also do this for your family?  The questions for both jobs are similar but there are things that complicate a move across the border and it's worth knowing if the university provides support for this. 
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baleful_regards
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« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2012, 12:48:00 AM »

You should also ask about the university support for the immigration process - do they provide lawyers and cover costs?  Do they also do this for your family?  The questions for both jobs are similar but there are things that complicate a move across the border and it's worth knowing if the university provides support for this. 

Big chime to this.

Issues such as importing your vehicle over borders and the taxes etc you will be paying can be large and unpleasant surprises ( Says baleful after trying to import her 2003 Sonata and being denied due to differences in Canadian and US emissions requirements).

I am not sure what the tax rate is in Ontario, but where we lived in Quebec that 20K could be easily eaten up in taxes and the higher cost of most goods/services in Canada/Quebec.

As Canada has a national health insurance you are going to want firm assurance that they plan on helping you get permanent residency so you will be eligible for health insurance and getting a SIN and health care.

It may appear as if it is easy to move cross international borders. I assure you it is not. (Don't get me started on making sure I had all the paperwork for pets - and Yeah, I was asked for it at the border)
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montrealer
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« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2012, 1:18:08 AM »

Ontario taxes are lower than Quebec. Another advantage in Canada is that most universities are unionized or they have faculty associatons so there should be a contract available online that specifies yearly steps, etc.

Cost of living is dependent on where in Ontario it is. And the Canadian dollar is basically on par with the US dollar.
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larix
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« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2012, 10:32:52 AM »

Funding rates may be higher in Canada but the amount of money that you get for a grant is much less. Also make certain that the university you are thinking of in Canada has a graduate program. In recent revisions of SSHRC and NSERC a lot know depends on how many "Highly Qualified Personnel" (AKA students) that you are training. This means that there is starting to be a bias towards the large (U-15) universities with big labs and the reputation to recruit a lot of graduate students. That said, speaking as someone at a small university in Canada, I think it is still a bit easier to maintain an active research program at a smaller university in Canada than at a comparable university in the US. One thing to consider is that at most universities in Canada you will have likely a 2/2 or 3/2 teaching load and a full 12 month salary. Not having to rely on grant money to pay your salary in the summer I think counts for a lot.

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michigander
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« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2012, 5:31:30 PM »

My Canadian experience is all as a frequent visitor in both urban and rural parts of Ontario (Toronto plus Prince Edward, Essex, Bruce, and Huron Counties), but I have yet to run into anything that is less expensive there than in the US, particularly taxes.  Listen to balefulregardss about health insurance -- you really really want to qualify for OHIP coverage.  Also, unlike in much of the US, the housing market in much if not most of Ontario has not been adversely affected by the world economic situation, so affordable housing is a very relative concept.
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galway
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« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2012, 10:47:40 PM »

In Ontario you and your family will qualify for health insurance (OHIP) after 3 months - you don't need permanent residency to get OHIP - nor do you need it to get a SIN card.  In almost all situations (there are a few exceptions) if you have a partner they will get an open work permit at the border allowing them to work in most but not all professions.  You still want your university to support your application for permanent residency but that issue is separate from the OHIP issue.  Goods do tend to be more expensive - some a lot more, some a little more - and sales taxes are high (HST is 13%).  Taxes in ON are really not much higher than the US and would in no way eat up the difference of 20K higher salary.  Between higher costs and slightly higher taxes 20K will not give you the bump it might seem but it won't be entirely eaten up.  Also in terms of housing things are not cheap but if you aren't in Toronto and you're looking at a Northeastern city as the comparison it isn't likely to be that different.  Of course the city of reference matters a lot - Portland ME has cheaper houses than Guelph but even Toronto is not that different than Boston and is significantly more affordable than New York. 

Funding amounts are smaller but you don't have IDC (overhead) taken out of it - so again depending on the grant it may or may not actually be less.   I don't know about amounts in SSHRCs but many NSERCs end up with similar amounts as a mid-sized NSF after IDC comes out - but not all and I think it may be tough for people with very expensive research.  Also if you're likely to hold multiple grants at a US school you might end up with considerably less based on Canadian funding.   It's worth asking about the costs of grad students including fringe you would have to include on grants supporting them.  Often - but not always - it's lower at the Canadian schools because government sponsored health care helps keep costs down and tuition costs are lower than most US schools. 

I'm not saying that things are necessarily better at the Canadian school - that will depend on multiple factors - but to suggest some things that may affect how you weigh those factors out.


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baleful_regards
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« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2012, 11:18:51 PM »

galway, I lived in Montreal for six years and didn't qualify for health insurance as I was an American and not a permanent resident.

However, I am not familiar with the Ontario system.
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cranefly
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« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2012, 11:29:39 PM »

We don't have a 'national' health insurance in Canada: Basic health costs are covered by the provinces.
In Ontario, you would normally qualify for insurance after being a permanent resident for 3 months.
But, universities vary greatly in the incidentals that are NOT covered by provincial care (e.g. dental, chiropractic, physiotherapy, eye care, prescriptions). If you or your family have any expensive health care issues check to see if they will be covered by your university care. At most universities, prescriptions will be (mostly) covered, but dental, eye care and other services can be varied (my university doesn't cover eye checkups or prescriptions for glasses/contacts, for instance, and chiropractic coverage is pathetic, leaving me about $40 out of pocket for each visit).

Housing is MUCH more expensive than in most parts of the USA, as is just about everything else, as others have pointed out. Outside housing, expect to pay about 25% more for vehicles, food, gas, clothing, etc.

The school system in Ontario is rated highly, and therefore tends to be much better than many parts of the USA, so if you have kids, that should be a factor.

 As for overheads on grants, you don't get overhead taken off SSHRC or NSERC or CIHR, but other grants will have overhead.

Financially, it kind of depends where in Ontario and where in NE USA you'd be comparing. There are cheaper parts of Ontario (Oshawa, Windsor house prices compare better to US prices) and there are expensive parts.

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cranefly
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« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2012, 11:36:11 PM »

One other things, put in a call to the university's faculty association or union to find out about health coverage (they'll be used to bringing Americans up), and they can also advise you on if the salary offer is reasonable or if you should ask for more...
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helpful
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« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2012, 11:36:40 PM »

galway, I lived in Montreal for six years and didn't qualify for health insurance as I was an American and not a permanent resident.

Were you, as a student or faculty member, covered by the insurance plan for students or faculty?
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baleful_regards
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« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2012, 11:48:04 PM »

galway, I lived in Montreal for six years and didn't qualify for health insurance as I was an American and not a permanent resident.

Were you, as a student or faculty member, covered by the insurance plan for students or faculty?

Yes, at a purchase cost of about 5K a year for our family.  I did have partial prescription coverage of 80%, but all things (care and meds)  had to paid by us first, then submitted for reimbursement.

My dental coverage was pretty minimal as well.
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galway
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« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2012, 12:35:15 AM »

As Cranefly noted in ON you and your family will be covered by OHIP in 3 months - so balefulregards situation was quite different.  Also as Cranefly notes the other coverage is a good thing to check out as is the interim coverage.  Some schools provide very good coverage for all the additional health care costs and low cost health insurance coverage to bridge the 3 month interim but those are good things to ask about.  The faculty association is a good place to turn to for this kind of information.

In terms of housing I disagree with Cranefly that it's MUCH more expensive - mostly because the US market is just too broad to make those kinds of comparisons.  Northeastern cities are typically on the high end of the US market so doing a little digging on housing prices in the two relevant comparisons would be necessary.

The 12-month salaries in Canada are nice but with a 9-month salary you can get a salary bump from your grants - so if you're likely to get significant funding that's something to weigh in as well. 
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janewales
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« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2012, 12:35:35 PM »

The OP is in history, so some of the comments on this thread about the grant system need to be understood in that context.

OP, your main federal granting council would be SSHRC; I'd suggest you visit their website (http://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/home-accueil-eng.aspx) to see the grant opportunities in your field. I can tell you that the national success rate for the main program, the Insight Grants, was 27% last year. The average grant in History was about 85,000; that's spread across 3 years, typically. There is no overhead taken from any federally-funded grants.

The CAUT (Canadian Association of University Teachers) publishes an annual almanac with lots of statistical information about Canadian universities (demographics, salaries, all kinds of stuff). It's freely available online; just google it.

As for cost of living, well, there are a lot of factors. Health care has already been discussed (Quebec is an outlier; you'll be fine in Ontario). If you have children, keep in mind that it's likely the public schools will be very good, so you won't need to budget for private schools. Housing will indeed vary depending on where you're looking.

But yes, my American colleagues complain all the time about how expensive everything is up here (and that's despite the fact that Canadian university professors are some of the best-paid in the world; starting salaries in my English department are 85K right now). Some of it's the consequence of a small market, but a lot of it comes down to various levels of taxation. I'm fine with that myself, because I figure something has to pay for things like schools, health care, universities, the social safety net... but then I grew up here. It can be a bit of a culture shock for Americans to move here.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2012, 12:36:19 PM by janewales » Logged
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