“I’m looking for a country where the first role of the government is to protect its citizens,” he said. “It looks to me like all [of Canada’s] three major political parties seem to have proven that they are much more responsible than our leadership.”Workers like Michael are drawn to Canada’s lower unemployment rate — 7 percent in July compared to 9.1 in the U.S. — and sustained economic strength in major centers such as Toronto, which alone attracts an estimated 100,000 new arrivals a year.These include not only people with temporary work visas, or those seeking permanent residency, but also increasing numbers of university students, drawn by highly-ranked Canadian schools where tuition, even at 3 or 4 times the rates for Canadians, is still a fraction of what it costs to attend many colleges in the U.S.

John Cameron’s mother lost her senior position at a bank branch in Maine in 2009 at the same time he was trying to finalize his choices for his freshman year in college.He had his eye on American universities such as Loyola, University of Maryland, Columbia and Fordham.His father, thinking about the finances, suggested the University of Toronto. Cameron was reluctant, but now he’s a Canadian convert.”I really love it,” he said. “[It’s] hands-down one of the best schools in North America.”Toronto has also become home to a couple in their mid-30s from New York City who both lost their full-time jobs in Manhattan in the wake of the 2008 crash. They now live in Canada on temporary visas.“It’s important for us to live in a place with a lot of diversity and a good cultural sector,” said the woman, who asked that their names be withheld to avoid compromising their residency status in Canada. She says she was surprised at how quickly and efficiently they were able to qualify for Ontario health care.

Some Canadians who had considered America their adopted home are going back.Al Brickman recently gave up on the United States after 30 years of running a Canadian-owned construction-supply business in Atlanta, Ga.“I really did hold out for about two years,” he said, but business had bottomed-out in the economy. Brickman said that his billings, once around $100,000, had dropped on some months by as much as 95 percent.Brickman moved home to Toronto to work at his company there, where he has a steady job as a general manager. His American wife and their 11-week-old baby, are now trying to emigrate to join him.Since he got back, Brickman said he’s been fielding calls from American friends hoping he can get them a job up north, too.Shawn Shepard, a legal software supervisor who was among hundreds laid off by his Manhattan law firm in 2008, is hoping a Canadian employer will sponsor him.