I am considering the possibility of applying for a faculty or possibly other research positions at a Canadian university. I am curious to know what are the differences in terms of work experience, quality of life, research funding, and so on? I have also heard that government funding structure in Canada is vastly different than the US. Anyone care to share any experiences or first hand knowledge of differences between Canada and the USA for newly PhDs looking for research positions up north?
I am predominately based in Canada as a post-doc, but do have partnerships with few universities in the US and have gone down there for extended periods of time for research purposes.
I mean, they are not vastly different, but it depends on school and the position itself. Some universities are more prestigious than others- but depends on your field. There are many US scholars here - particularly at universities such as UofT hire heavily from the US. In terms of impact - its so different from university to department, but looking online and checking out Maclean's university rankings could help - but again, so department and field specific - and of course there is some great work happening across both countries.
In terms of funding, again department specific where some are very well funded and others not so much. The major grant competitions are CIHR for any health type related work and SSHRC which are both granted by the federal government across a number of priority areas and disciplines (however, many researchers still rely on large US funding such as NIH). Provinces also have their own grant competitions as well. If you've applied for an NIH, you'll be familiar with the federal grant structure but it is tedious and the platform is archaic. Funding competition is tight, but if can align with their priority calls you could have a good chance, and try to be a Co-Investigator on as many applications as possible. However, at any institution they would be very familiar with this process, and as a post doc or early career researcher there is access to lots of resources such as government run and university run seminars to assist in the application, you'll have an advisor or mentor, and others who can help you navigate the red tape the first time.
In terms of living - Canada is great (again depends where you end up!). Some things to consider is access to free healthcare if you work or study here, which could be a big difference from the US. Rent in major cities is comparable, still expensive, but I gage slightly cheaper (Vancouver or Toronto versus, for example, Santa Monica). The culture is very similar to the US, so I think it would be a very easy transition for a US scholar.