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Child and teenage wellbeing in Canada vs UK

Child and teenage wellbeing in Canada vs UK

Old Nov 8th 2019, 10:45 am
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Default Child and teenage wellbeing in Canada vs UK

Do you think Canada is a better place for kids to grow up than UK? Our major reason for moving would be a better upbringing for our kids. In the UK we worry about high levels of teenage mental health problems, education standards if you can't get into the better state schools, lack of time outdoors, teenage behaviour - locally we see teens being antisocial in public swearing loudly, throwing fireworks at people (!), smoking marijuana in street, intimidating people, and adults not daring to say anything. Also when they are adults I worry about career prospects particularly after brexit and house prices. I often hear people say they are moving to Canada for a better quality of life for kids.

However Canada didn't score that well in UNICEF child wellbeing rankings, except education where is scored fantastically. In particular it scored poorly for children's reported happiness levels. I'm wondering if my impressions of Canada are rose tinted?

How do you think Canada is for child wellbeing? In particular for teenagers - do you get the kind of teenage apathy, mental health issues and delinquency seen in UK?

Our eldest is primary age and we would live outside Vancouver/ Toronto, probably in a town in either BC or Ontario, we are at early stages of research. I am a GP and my husband would work remotely in IT so we would have a good income and could live in a variety of places. Main priority would be a place great for kids to grow up,any suggestions welcome.
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Old Nov 8th 2019, 11:52 am
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Default Re: Child and teenage wellbeing in Canada vs UK

Hi, welcome to BE.

Unless you have a love of Canada and a reason to move there other than to escape the negatives you've listed, then personally I'd explore elsewhere in the UK first. We often say on the forum that those that make a success of the move are those that move for 'pull' factors rather than 'push' factors. Teens all over the world will do drugs, suffer from mental health issues etc, etc and moving continents isn't going to change that.

A move to Canada will cost you tens of thousands of pounds, be a lot of stress, and take a long time for you to get registered to work in Canada, so before uprooting your family and going through all that, personally I'd explore a move within the UK. Unless, as said above, you love Canada.

I have two teens, and for us the UK is much better than Canada for various reasons, but we live very rurally and in a super safe area (we don't even lock our doors usually), so I don't see any of the anti-social behaviour you mention. All of the schools here are outstanding so education is superb, and our children are always outdoors. The 'lack of time outdoors' isn't going to change if you move to Canada, either you have outdoorsy kids or you don't!

JMO of course, but that's what I would do if I were you.

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Old Nov 8th 2019, 1:16 pm
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Default Re: Child and teenage wellbeing in Canada vs UK

Originally Posted by MayFlowers View Post
....we would live outside Vancouver/ Toronto, probably in a town in either BC or Ontario, we are at early stages of research.
You have just named the two eye wateringly expensive Canadian cities / real estate hotspots!
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Old Nov 8th 2019, 2:04 pm
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Default Re: Child and teenage wellbeing in Canada vs UK

Its close to impossible to answer your questions without generalisations and anecdotes. I pretty much agree with Christmasoompa, it will cost you an absolute fortune to move here, the areas you suggest living in are freakily expensive and, if your kids are not outdoorsy kids in the UK, they likely won't be here either.

We have two boys, they were 9 and 5 when we moved to Canada - both in their 20s now. If I were to ask them, they would both 100% say that growing up in Canada was better for them than growing up in the UK would have been - and where we moved to in Canada was better than where we were in the UK. However - as we didn't follow the growing up in the UK path we have no way of knowing how they would have turned out. My boys love the outdoors - they played outside in the UK and they did the same here. The area we moved to was perfect for them - everyone had big gardens, most people had a swimming pool, the streets were very quiet and they found a lot of friends with similar interests and were generally to be found in a posse of kids either up a tree, playing street hockey or in someone's pool. The other factor (which I think was huge) was that we had no family or long term friends here, work was an hour away and socialising with work friends after work when you have kids is not really an option, so our only source of a social life was through their activities. So we let them play sports to a level and commitment that we probably would not have had time to honour had we stayed in the UK, we threw ourselves into our new life and went out to places on the weekends - we all took up cross country skiiing.

My cousin moved from London to a small holding in North Yorkshire - apart from the swimming pools his kids had very much the same upbringing as mine did (they had a horse and dirt bikes so maybe even better!). If the only thing you are looking for is spending time outdoors - its probably not necessary to move continents.

Mental health issues among teenagers seems to be a problem everywhere. One son lost a classmate to suicide and a lot of the girls particularly seem to have anxiety issues.

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Old Nov 8th 2019, 3:06 pm
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Default Re: Child and teenage wellbeing in Canada vs UK

I think the best predictors of outcomes for children are interested parents, money, and, for girls, not getting banged up in high school. Canada may be better in that it may provide more cash to fund tutors and activities; the parents will be the same ones regardless. Certainly I would say that my children enjoyed a more desirable lifestyle than their cousins on the south coast of England; they were able to sail and ride and all the rest of it and able to get themselves to and from their activities by public transit. Their school, on Jarvis Street in central Toronto was in a colourful area, so much so that when one emigrated to Tower Hamlets she judged the London borough to be a step up; one could not say that their lives were more sheltered for being in Canada but they were in a position akin to rich kids attending a school in, say, Camden. But that was a different time. In 1986 I made $100,000 as a computer programmer, that money funded a house in an suburb "the Beach" and one in an outer suburb "Lorne Park". We paid a little under $500,000 for those two and my wife bought some more for luck. Now programmers are called "developers" or "multi-facetted Agile team members", they're still paid 100 grand but the same pair of houses would cost a little over $3,000,000. The financial advantage over the UK is gone. I don't think people realize that when they speak of moving to Canada "for the children".

One of my children decided to stay in Canada and is, in a way, trying to provide her childhood to her children; she has a higher paying job than I did and her husband even more so. They're not struggling, the children skate and swim and all the age appropriate stuff and they've been leveraged into the most academically promising facilities. Buying a house is beyond them though.
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Old Nov 8th 2019, 3:15 pm
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Default Re: Child and teenage wellbeing in Canada vs UK

IMO its a widely held misconception thats Canada is a better place to bring up kids than the UK..quality of life, better education etc..i have 3 children ..2 of them primarily because of divorce have mostly lived in the UK my oldest son because he lives with me has spent most of the last 10 years in Canada..he is now in his 20s..suffers from mental health issues that my other two dont..he has friends who are struggling with drugs and poor relationships etc even though they all did pretty well at school..maybe its me but lots of kids here are brought up in a bubble of school and play days and struggle to cope when they leave school and find the real world can be daunting place they have not been prepared for.
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Old Nov 8th 2019, 3:36 pm
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Default Re: Child and teenage wellbeing in Canada vs UK

Originally Posted by cheeky_monkey View Post
.maybe its me but lots of kids here are brought up in a bubble of school and play days and struggle to cope when they leave school and find the real world can be daunting place they have not been prepared for.
I think that's likely true but not a differentiating factor. Urban children in Toronto are exposed to just as much gritty urban life as children in other cities. Children in Esher may be as cossetted as those anywhere.

An anecdote on that. When a daughter went to university in Canada she was shocked at how few students were accustomed to alcohol and how wild they went "it was like when we were 14 and we could first pass in Zelda's" (Zelda's is a tranny bar near their high school that was famously lax on under age drinking). I don't imagine there's the same gap in experience among first year university students in the UK.

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Old Nov 8th 2019, 3:43 pm
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Default Re: Child and teenage wellbeing in Canada vs UK

Just a quick clarification that we don't want to live in Toronto or Vancouver. We want to live in Ontario or BC but OUTSIDE of those cities. We don't need to commute there.
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Old Nov 8th 2019, 3:56 pm
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Default Re: Child and teenage wellbeing in Canada vs UK

Originally Posted by MayFlowers View Post
Just a quick clarification that we don't want to live in Toronto or Vancouver. We want to live in Ontario or BC but OUTSIDE of those cities. We don't need to commute there.
Still going to be a heck of a lot pricier than going to somewhere like Sasketchewan. Or Shropshire.

Re-reading your post, it seems that you're judging teens by the ones you see on the streets, do you know any teenagers yourself? Are they the same? I'm sure if I went to a local city at night I'd see exactly what you've described, but I certainly don't recognise it from the teens I know who are all respectful, driven, hard working and great kids. I suspect the difference is parenting rather than location though.
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Old Nov 8th 2019, 4:09 pm
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Default Re: Child and teenage wellbeing in Canada vs UK

Originally Posted by MayFlowers View Post
Just a quick clarification that we don't want to live in Toronto or Vancouver. We want to live in Ontario or BC but OUTSIDE of those cities. We don't need to commute there.
If you're going far enough away to alter the cost equation so, in Ontario, not K-W, not Guelph, not Niagara then you have a different set of problems. Places such as Windsor (car manufacturing), Sarnia (oil refining), anywhere north of Barrie (mining) depended on industries that have gone. You're looking at spots as bleak as the Guardian paints West Virginia. I don't know BC, maybe pulp and paper mills still support vibrant, if smelly, communities.
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Old Nov 8th 2019, 4:17 pm
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Default Re: Child and teenage wellbeing in Canada vs UK

Originally Posted by MayFlowers View Post
Just a quick clarification that we don't want to live in Toronto or Vancouver. We want to live in Ontario or BC but OUTSIDE of those cities. We don't need to commute there.
+1 what dbd33 said.

I assume you are thinking Toronto and Vancouver for relative proximity to major international airport hubs?? If so, there is also Calgary, Ottawa and Halifax that have international flights (sure not many, but some). Also you would have to be 1-200km PLUS away from the cities to have much impact on property prices. I would say that London ON is relatively sane for prices and pretty much between KW and Windsor, so further than KW but not as far as Windsor and a 3 hour drive to TO airport (which is considered nothing in Canada). To the east along Lake Ontario prices start to become a bit saner around Belleville and Prince Edward County (not sure you would want to live in Belleville). Kingston is nice, but a good 4 hour drive to Toronto and 5 hours from the airport (wrong side of TO). North of Barrie?? Possible, but yikes - it get real quiet real quick up there!
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Old Nov 8th 2019, 4:33 pm
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Default Re: Child and teenage wellbeing in Canada vs UK

Picking up a couple of items from the original post:

Since mental health issues are mentioned specifically I should say that I have a child who has a mental handicap (which may not currently be called that). She was born in Canada but support for people with such disabilities in Canada is such that she and her mother no longer live here. It may be that there's a lower incidence of mental health issues among teenagers in Canada or it may be that, given the lack of provision and the stigma attached to such issues, it's considered kinder not to diagnose them.

Smoking marijuana is legal here but was so commonplace before legalization that I wouldn't register that someone smoking on the street had a joint vs. a straight.
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Old Nov 8th 2019, 7:45 pm
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Default Re: Child and teenage wellbeing in Canada vs UK

Originally Posted by MayFlowers View Post
Do you think Canada is a better place for kids to grow up than UK? .
Here's a previous thread on the topic.
There's a unicef link too.

I do remember a popular opinion expressed on BE previously was that Canadian kids were generally more respectful of adults. Quite a few female members commented upon that.

Another one

Last edited by BristolUK; Nov 8th 2019 at 7:55 pm.
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Old Nov 8th 2019, 8:01 pm
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Default Re: Child and teenage wellbeing in Canada vs UK

Originally Posted by MayFlowers View Post

How do you think Canada is for child wellbeing? In particular for teenagers - do you get the kind of teenage apathy, mental health issues and delinquency seen in UK?
I live in a city of 80,000 here in BC.
I have raised 2 Canadian teenagers, and I worked for the RCMP for 6 years and my experience is that drunken teens in my neck of the woods do not go looking for fights, nor do they carry knives or join gangs. Vancouver might be different, but here in Kamloops, generally speaking teenagers are very well behaved, and respectful. I would rather see kids high on cannabis than being an aggressive drunk. Adults are far worse for this than teenagers.

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Old Nov 9th 2019, 10:13 am
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Default Re: Child and teenage wellbeing in Canada vs UK

To be honest our main reason for the move is a better quality of life for our children. There is no way Toronto is on par with London.
We live in the middle of London in a teeny tiny 900sq home, we are lucky enough to have small courtyard garden (enough space for BBQ and a small table and chairs and that is it!). Very few of my children’s friends have the luxury of outside space and there are definitely no swimming pools!

I’ve lost count of the number of stabbings of teenagers in my area. Many of friends children have been mugged for their mobile phones, watches even their designer coats. I personally know a young child and two teenage girls on their way home from school that were about to be kidnapped/raped and a member of the public has intervened and this is all in the last 12 months. I find it hard to believe that even in Toronto this a regular occurrence?! When I visited my sister in Canada the main news on the radio for several days was someone’s car being broken into!!

I personally believe mental health on the other hand will affect teenagers regardless of where they live mainly due to social media however, my daughter is too afraid to go out in fear of being mugged of her iPhone or worse and that should not be happening.

Some of you may say well move out of London but it’s gradually happening everywhere. Hertfordshire and Essex are also now being targeted and there is no police presence or consequences for the criminals.

I have no jaded view of Canada and I’m fully aware teenagers will be involved in drink and drugs wherever they are however, knowing my children have enough space to play in the garden or at home or the confidence to play outside and socialise outside of the home safely is enough for me to make the move.
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