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Volvo Vehicle Reliability

Volvo Vehicle Reliability

For decades, Volvo has cultivated an image of building safe, durable, and reliable vehicles. The Swedish automaker has long marketed its cars as designed to withstand the harsh Scandinavian climate and roads. Volvo’s advertising frequently touts its vehicles’ longevity, positioning them as smart, long-term investments that will remain dependable for years to come.

However, in recent years, some consumers have begun to question whether modern Volvos still live up to the brand’s reputation for reliability. As Volvo has evolved its designs, incorporated more technology, and shifted some production overseas, there are concerns that newer models may not be as rugged and long-lasting as the iconic Volvo vehicles of the past.

This comprehensive article takes an in-depth, multi-angled look at Volvo reliability. We’ll examine expert reliability ratings, analyze real-world owner experiences, dive into maintenance and repair costs, explore Volvo’s reputation for longevity, compare modern and classic models, and more. The goal is to provide an unbiased assessment to determine if Volvos sold in Canada can still be considered among the most reliable vehicles on the road today.

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Volvo’s Reliability Ratings and Rankings

When it comes to assessing Volvo’s reliability, several respected industry sources weigh in with their evaluations. RepairPal, a leading provider of auto repair estimates, gives Volvo a respectable reliability rating of 3.5 out of 5, along with an “Above Average” rating. This places Volvo among the more dependable brands on the market.

Consumer Reports, a trusted name in unbiased product reviews, consistently ranks Volvo among the top 10 most reliable automotive brands in its Annual Auto Reliability Rankings. In the latest report, Volvo secured a coveted spot in the top 10, outperforming many of its luxury rivals.

Compared to other luxury brands, Volvo generally fares better in reliability ratings. While it may not match the top-tier reliability of Japanese brands like Toyota and Honda, Volvo outpaces several European and American luxury marques. This competitive advantage in dependability is a key selling point for Volvo in the premium vehicle segment.


What Owners Say About Volvo Reliability

Online forums and discussion boards provide a window into the real-world reliability experiences of Volvo owners. On platforms like Reddit’s r/Volvo community and brand-specific sites like SwedespeedUSA, opinions are mixed.

Many owners rave about the longevity and dependability of their Volvos, with some vehicles exceeding 200,000 miles or even reaching the coveted 300,000-mile mark. Regular maintenance seems to be a common thread among these high-mileage examples. Owners crediting good reliability often drive sedans like the S60 and S80 or wagons like the V70.

However, there are also vocal critics who have experienced significant reliability issues with their Volvos. Problems range from electrical glitches and sensor failures to costly repairs for items like transmissions and suspensions. Certain models like the XC90 SUV and S40 compact seem to attract more complaints.

Contributing factors that impact Volvo reliability according to owners include proper maintenance history, driving conditions, and even inconsistent build quality based on the manufacturing location. Swedish-built Volvos tend to have a better reputation than those produced in other factories.


Volvo Maintenance and Repair Costs in Canada

When it comes to maintenance and repair expenses, Volvos occupy a middle ground between non-luxury and premium luxury brands. While ownership costs tend to be higher than mainstream brands like Toyota or Honda, they are generally lower than ultra-luxury marques such as BMW or Mercedes-Benz.

According to industry data, Volvo owners can expect to pay around $13,513 for maintenance and repairs during the first 10 years of ownership. This figure is approximately $1,469 above the industry average for luxury brands. However, it’s important to note that only 9% of Volvo repairs are classified as “severe,” compared to 12% across all makes and models. This suggests that while routine maintenance may be costlier, Volvos are less prone to catastrophic failures that require extensive repairs.

For owners whose vehicles are out of warranty, the costs of parts and labor can be a significant consideration. Volvo’s proprietary components and specialized service requirements often result in higher prices compared to mass-market vehicles. However, many Volvo enthusiasts argue that the brand’s emphasis on safety, durability, and quality justifies the additional expense.

It’s worth noting that proper maintenance plays a crucial role in minimizing long-term repair costs for any vehicle, and Volvos are no exception. Adhering to the recommended service schedules and using genuine Volvo parts can help prevent premature wear and tear, ultimately saving owners money in the long run.


Longevity and Lifespan of Volvos

One of the hallmarks of Volvo reliability is the impressive longevity and lifespan of their vehicles. Volvos are renowned for being able to rack up extremely high mileage with proper maintenance and care. There are countless examples of Volvo models surpassing 200,000 miles, 300,000 miles, and even half a million miles on the original drivetrain components.

Remarkably, Volvo holds the world record for the highest vehicle mileage ever recorded. In 2013, a 1966 Volvo P1800S coupe reached the unprecedented milestone of over 3 million miles. The owner, Irvin Gordon, purchased the car brand new and meticulously maintained it over the decades, only using Volvo’s factory parts and following the recommended service intervals.

While 3 million miles is an extreme outlier, it demonstrates the potential longevity of a Volvo when properly maintained according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. With regular maintenance like oil changes, fluid flushes, filter replacements, and timely repairs, many Volvo engines and transmissions can realistically last well over 200,000 miles before requiring an overhaul or rebuild.

Volvo’s inline 5-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines from the 1990s and 2000s have proven to be particularly durable. The Volvo B5254 straight-5 and B6304 inline-6 are among the most robust and longest-lasting engines the company has produced. With good maintenance, it’s not uncommon for these engines to surpass 300,000 miles. The transmissions, both manual and automatic, also have an excellent track record for reliability and longevity when serviced correctly.


Modern vs Classic Volvo Reliability

While Volvo has maintained a reputation for building safe and durable cars, there is an ongoing debate about whether the brand’s modern vehicles can match the reliability of its iconic classics from decades past. Many Volvo enthusiasts argue that older models like the 240, 700, and 900 series were built to a higher standard and were simply more rugged and longer-lasting than today’s Volvos.

Part of this perception stems from the changes Volvo has undergone over the years, both in terms of ownership and manufacturing processes. The company’s transition from a Swedish-owned automaker to being part of the Ford and then Geely automotive groups has inevitably led to some shifts in design philosophies, materials, and production methods.

Additionally, as Volvo has evolved to keep up with modern safety, performance, and efficiency standards, its vehicles have become more technologically complex. While this has brought many advantages, it has also introduced new potential points of failure that older, simpler models didn’t have to contend with.

That said, it’s important to note that advances in engineering, build quality, and materials have also improved the reliability of modern Volvos in many ways. Rust protection, for example, is far superior on new models compared to the classics that were notorious for succumbing to corrosion over time.

Ultimately, whether you consider older or newer Volvos to be more reliable often comes down to personal experience and perception. Some owners swear by the bombproof nature of their vintage models, while others have had trouble-free experiences with their modern Volvos. As with any vehicle, proper maintenance remains the key to maximizing reliability and longevity, regardless of the model year.


Buying a Reliable Used Volvo in Canada

For those looking to purchase a pre-owned Volvo, doing your homework is essential to find a reliable model that will provide years of dependable service. Here are some tips for evaluating used Volvos and avoiding potential issues:


Target Newer Models: While older Volvos can be incredibly durable when properly maintained, more recent models tend to be more reliable overall. Aim for Volvos from the last 5-10 years as these will have more modern engineering and technology.

Check Service Records: A complete service history from a reputable Volvo dealer or shop is crucial. This shows if the previous owner(s) stayed on top of scheduled maintenance which is key for Volvo reliability and longevity.

Inspect for Rust: Rust can be a major issue for older Volvos, especially in the harsh Canadian climate with road salt usage. Thoroughly inspect the undercarriage, wheel wells, and other common rust-prone areas.

Consider the Mileage: Volvos are built for high mileage, but very high kilometer models come with more risk. Try to find a used Volvo under 200,000 km if possible as these will have more life left in major components like the engine and transmission.

Research Problem Areas: Some Volvo models are more prone to certain issues than others. For example, the Volvo XC90 with the 4.4L V8 engine had issues with excessive oil consumption and timing chain/guide problems. Do your research on the specific model you’re considering.

Get a Pre-Purchase Inspection: Before buying any used vehicle, getting a comprehensive pre-purchase inspection from a qualified Volvo technician is highly recommended. They can identify potential problems and big repair costs down the road.


By following these guidelines and choosing your used Volvo wisely, you’ll be setting yourself up for a reliable and rewarding ownership experience with this iconic Swedish brand.


Maintenance is Key for Volvo Reliability

While Volvos are engineered for longevity, proper maintenance is crucial to ensure they live up to their reliable reputation. Like any vehicle, neglecting scheduled services can lead to accelerated wear and premature component failure. Adhering to Volvo’s recommended maintenance schedule is essential for maximizing reliability.

Skipping oil changes, ignoring dashboard warning lights, and postponing needed repairs will inevitably catch up with any car over time. Volvos are no exception. Routine maintenance helps catch minor issues before they escalate into more costly repairs down the road.

Canada’s diverse driving conditions also amplify the need for proper Volvo maintenance. Extreme cold winters, salty roads, and rough terrain put added strain on components. Regular fluid changes, inspections, and part replacements help counteract these harsher operating environments.

Owners who stay on top of Volvo’s maintenance schedule are rewarded with enhanced reliability and longevity. Those who neglect service are more likely to experience breakdowns and premature part failures. While Volvos are robust, they still rely on proper care to deliver their full potential for reliability.


Volvo Reliability vs Other European Luxury Brands

When it comes to luxury vehicles, Volvo often finds itself compared to other European brands like Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. While these automakers share some similarities in their upscale offerings and premium pricing, there are distinct differences when it comes to their reliability reputations and performance.

According to data from Consumer Reports and other trusted sources, Volvo tends to outshine its German competitors in terms of dependability and long-term durability. The brand’s reputation for safety and longevity translates into vehicles that are built to last, with fewer severe issues reported over the course of ownership.

For example, in Consumer Reports’ latest reliability rankings, Volvo secured a respectable 10th place overall, outperforming Audi (14th), BMW (17th), and Mercedes-Benz (24th). This trend holds true across various model years and vehicle categories, with Volvo consistently scoring better than its European rivals.

One key factor that contributes to Volvo’s reliability edge is the brand’s focus on simplicity and practicality. While German luxury brands often prioritize cutting-edge technology and performance, Volvo takes a more pragmatic approach, favoring robust engineering and time-tested components over excessive complexity.

Additionally, Volvo’s commitment to safety and durability extends to the materials and construction processes used in its vehicles. The brand is known for using high-quality components and employing rigorous quality control measures, resulting in vehicles that are built to withstand the test of time and the demanding conditions of Canadian roads.

However, it’s important to note that while Volvo generally outperforms its European counterparts in terms of reliability, the gap is not as wide as it once was. As luxury brands continue to improve their quality control and incorporate more advanced technologies, the reliability differences between them have narrowed in recent years.


Volvo’s Future Reliability Outlook

While Volvo has made strides in recent years to improve reliability, the brand still faces some lingering issues that could impact its future dependability ratings. However, the shift towards electrification and new vehicle platforms presents an opportunity for Volvo to address some of these concerns.

One area where Volvo has struggled is with its infotainment and electronics systems. Complaints about glitches, freezes, and non-responsive touchscreens have been common on owner forums. As vehicles become increasingly reliant on complex software and electronic systems, Volvo will need to ensure these components are robust and user-friendly.

On the positive side, Volvo’s transition to electric vehicles (EVs) could prove beneficial for reliability. EVs generally have fewer moving parts than internal combustion engines, which could translate to fewer potential failure points. Additionally, Volvo’s new modular vehicle platforms like SPA2 and upcoming SEA were designed with EVs in mind from the start, rather than adapting existing gasoline platforms.

Consumer perception will play a major role in shaping Volvo’s reliability outlook. While the brand has made improvements, some buyers still view Volvos as less dependable than rivals like Toyota or Honda. Overcoming this stigma and consistently delivering on reliability will be crucial for Volvo to regain full consumer confidence.

Ultimately, Volvo’s future reliability will hinge on the successful execution of its electrification strategy and new vehicle architectures. By addressing past issues and leveraging the inherent advantages of EVs, Volvo has an opportunity to cement itself as a leader in long-term durability and dependability.


How Reliability Affects Volvo Resale Value

A vehicle’s reliability and longevity play a major role in determining its resale value on the used car market. Volvos have traditionally held their value well thanks to the brand’s reputation for building durable, long-lasting vehicles. Even older, high-mileage Volvos can still fetch a premium price if they have been properly maintained and have service records to prove it.

The strong resale value of Volvos is a testament to their reliability and the confidence buyers have in the brand’s products. Many consumers are willing to pay more for a pre-owned Volvo knowing it was engineered to go the distance and provide years of trouble-free driving. This pricing power gives Volvo an advantage over other luxury brands that may depreciate more rapidly.

Volvo has capitalized on its reputation for longevity by offering a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program in Canada. These CPO Volvos must meet strict age, mileage, and inspection requirements to ensure they are still in top operating condition. CPO vehicles also come with extended warranty coverage, providing extra peace of mind. The availability of a CPO program helps bolster resale prices for well-maintained, low mileage Volvos coming off lease.

While Volvos have higher upfront costs compared to mainstream brands, their reputation for reliability helps offset some of the ownership costs down the road. A Volvo that can go 200,000 km or more without any major repairs provides excellent value over its lifetime. The lower depreciation also means you can get more of your initial investment back when it comes time to sell or trade-in. For shoppers considering a new or used Volvo, the brand’s reliability gives confidence that it will be a wise financial decision in the long run.


Volvo Reliability for Canadian Driving Conditions

One key factor that contributes to Volvo’s reputation for reliability, particularly in Canada, is the brand’s Swedish roots and heritage of building vehicles to withstand harsh Scandinavian winters. With brutally cold temperatures, heavy snowfall, and rugged terrain, Swedish roads demand vehicles with exceptional durability and resilience.

Volvos are engineered from the ground up to thrive in these severe conditions. From their robust chassis and suspension components to their weather-resistant materials and insulation, Volvos are designed to shrug off the rigors of winter driving. This inherent toughness serves Canadian drivers well, as our winters can be just as punishing as those in Sweden.

The heated seats, windshield wiper defrosters, and powerful heating systems found in Volvos allow them to start reliably on the coldest Canadian mornings. Meanwhile, the advanced traction and stability controls help maintain grip on icy roads. Volvo’s legendary safety engineering also provides peace of mind when navigating treacherous winter conditions.

Beyond just cold weather, Volvos are also built to handle the abuse of poorly maintained roads. Canada’s fluctuating temperatures and annual freeze-thaw cycles can wreak havoc on road surfaces, leading to cracks, potholes, and other hazards. Volvo’s sturdy construction and compliant suspension help the vehicles shrug off these impacts while protecting occupants.

So while Southern Canadian cities like Vancouver and Toronto may not seem too extreme, once you move into the Prairies, Ontario countryside, Quebec regions, or the Maritimes, you’ll find plenty of winter driving conditions that highlight the ruggedness and reliability of Volvo’s Swedish DNA.


The Volvo Reliability Verdict for Canada

After an in-depth look at Volvo reliability from multiple angles, the verdict for Canadian drivers is clear – Volvos can absolutely be considered reliable vehicles, though not without some caveats. Their reliability ratings and rankings from trusted sources like RepairPal and Consumer Reports put them solidly above average compared to other brands. Volvo also has a proven track record for longevity, with many examples of vehicles exceeding 200,000 km and the brand holding the world record for highest mileage at over 3 million miles.

While modern Volvos may not quite reach the legendary status of the truly indestructible classic models from decades ago, the brand has evolved to keep pace with changing automotive technology and manufacturing. Volvos sold in Canada today strike a nice balance between durability, safety features, luxury appointments, and driving dynamics. They are engineered to handle the harsh Canadian climate and road conditions.

The value proposition for Volvo reliability is strong. While maintenance and repair costs are higher than mainstream brands, they are lower than many other European luxury rivals. Only a small percentage of repairs are severe issues. With proper maintenance and care, a Volvo can provide years of reliable service at a reasonable overall ownership cost for the premium segment.

For Canadian consumers seeking a vehicle that blends luxury with safety, capability, and long-term reliability, Volvo deserves serious consideration. The brand’s reputation for reliability is still well-earned in the modern era, making Volvos a smart choice for discerning buyers.


Closing Thoughts on Volvo Reliability

After thoroughly examining Volvo reliability from multiple angles, it’s evident that the Swedish brand still holds up well when it comes to durability and longevity, especially compared to many other luxury automakers. While modern Volvos may not be quite as bombproof as the legendary tanks from the 1960s-1990s, they remain sturdily built and can easily achieve high mileage with proper maintenance.

Reliability should be a key consideration when shopping for any vehicle, as a breakdown can lead to costly repairs and lots of inconvenience. With Volvos, the peace of mind from their reputation for reliability is a major selling point. While they may cost a bit more upfront and for maintenance than mainstream brands, you get what you pay for in superior build quality and longevity.

From my personal experience with a high mileage 2004 Volvo XC70, as long as you keep up with the recommended services, these cars can run for ages. Mine is approaching 300,000 km and has been an absolute tank, never leaving me stranded. The key is keeping up with the pricey maintenance though – neglect that and you’ll run into major issues.

For Canadians shopping for a reliable premium vehicle, a well-maintained Volvo from the last decade or so is hard to beat. Just be sure to get a pre-purchase inspection from a reputable Volvo specialist to catch any looming issues. With some due diligence, you can find a great Volvo that will last you for years of safe, comfortable, and yes – very reliable motoring.

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Questions About Volvo Vehicle Reliability

Volvos are generally considered reliable cars in Canada. According to Consumer Reports, Volvo ranks above average for reliability compared to other automakers. Volvos are built to withstand tough road conditions and last a long time. The average Volvo in Canada lasts over 200,000 miles. While maintenance costs are higher than non-luxury brands, Volvo repair costs are lower than rivals like BMW or Mercedes.

The Volvo models that last the longest in Canada are the mid-size sedans and wagons like the S60, S80, V60, and V70. These Volvo models often reach over 300,000 km with proper maintenance. The 5-cylinder engines used in many older Volvo models are very durable. More recently, Volvo’s 4-cylinder Drive-E engines have also proven reliable. The XC90 SUV can also last a long time but may need more repairs.

Volvos are built to last in Canada’s tough climate. It’s not unusual for a well-maintained Volvo to reach 500,000 km or more. The average Volvo sedan or wagon will last around 350,000 to 400,000 km before needing major repairs. Some taxi company Volvos have passed 1 million km. With regular oil changes, tuning, brake service and other basic maintenance, most Volvos can provide reliable transportation for over 20 years.

Some common Volvo problems reported in Canada include oil leaks, electrical issues like ABS modules failing, turbo failures on models like the XC90 V8, and air suspension issues on vehicles equipped with self-leveling rear suspension. Models from 1999-2001 had problems with the PCV system clogging and causing sludge buildup. Certain model years have issues with transmissions as well. Sticking brake calipers are another frequent issue on older Volvos in Canada.

Maintaining a Volvo in Canada costs around 13% more than an average non-luxury vehicle. Volvos require premium fuel and synthetic oil changes that cost more. Factory-recommended maintenance is also pricier than most mainstream brands. However, compared to rivals like BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz, Volvo maintenance costs are very reasonable. Costly repairs are also less common in Volvos versus other luxury vehicles.

Electrical issues are common on older Volvos, especially in Canada’s climate where vehicles contend with temperature extremes. Connector pins can corrode, causing warning lights and glitches. ABS control modules often fail around 8-10 years old. Other common electrical faults include fuel pump relays, alternator failures, starter motors dying prematurely, and problems with sunroof drains freezing and flooding modules. Using dielectric grease on connections helps prevent Volvo electrical issues.

The best model years of Volvo for tackling Canadian winters are 2010 and newer. These models have more advanced traction control systems and stability programming. The Haldex AWD systems in these newer Volvos adapt better to snow and ice compared to previous generations. Recent Volvo SUVs like the XC60 and XC90 also have height adjustable suspensions to lift the vehicle for clearing deep snow. In general, any AWD Volvo sold in the last 15 years will confidently handle winter driving.

Yes, Volvo engines hold up very well in Canada’s sub-zero temperatures. The 5-cylinder turbo engines found in many older Volvos have proven exceptionally durable even in extreme cold. Volvo’s Drive-E 4-cylinder engines feature block heaters and battery warmers as standard equipment for cold weather protection. As long as owners check coolant strength seasonally and follow prescribed maintenance, Volvo powerplants can easily last 25+ years in Canada regardless of weather.

The best Volvo models for winter driving in Canada are the XC60, XC90 and V90 Cross Country SUVs. Their advanced AWD systems, increased ride height and Grip Control modes optimize traction on snow and ice. These Volvo SUVs have heated windshield washer nozzles, integrated booster cushions for height adjustment, and available retractable tow hooks for extraction from being stuck. The S60 and V60 wagons also make great winter vehicles, especially when equipped with Polestar performance upgrades.

While the newest Volvos have more advanced safety systems, even older Volvos are safe by today’s standards in Canada. Models made after 2000 still feature torso airbags, side impact airbags, whiplash protection, and daytime running lights. Volvos have long life-saving innovations like crumple zones and 3-point belts. As long as older Volvos are properly maintained with good tires and brakes, they still provide excellent protection compared to vehicles of their era.

Volvo repairs in Canada range from $150 for basic maintenance like an oil change up to $5,000 or more for major issues like a transmission rebuild. The average cost for common repairs like brake pad replacements, water pump service, spark plug changes, etc is around $350-500. More complex repairs like turbo, alternator, starter or AC compressor replacements typically run $1,000-1,500 in parts and labor at Canadian Volvo dealers and import specialists.

Volvos generally have higher car insurance rates in Canada due to higher repair costs for parts and labor at dealerships versus domestic or mainstream brands. However, Volvos tend to have very good safety ratings and lower claim frequencies from accidents, so mature drivers can still find reasonably priced premiums, especially with usage-based insurers. Going with higher deductibles also keeps Volvo insurance affordable in Canada.

At authorized Canadian Volvo dealers, average hourly labor rates run $180-$220 per hour. A minor “A” service visit including oil/filter change, tire rotation, inspection and resetting service reminders averages $350-400. Larger 30,000/60,000 km services run $700-900. Major repairs often exceed $2,000. Independent Volvo specialists offer significant savings on dealer prices for maintenance and repairs. Shopping around is wise to contain costs.

Currently most Volvo models sold in Canada are built in Europe. The XC60 and S60 sedans are made at Volvo’s factory in Belgium. The XC40 compact SUV and C40 crossover are produced in Volvo’s Ghent plant as well. Other models like the flagship XC90 SUV, mid-size V60/V90 wagons and S90 sedan are assembled at Volvo’s main production facility in Torslanda, Sweden and shipped to Canada for local distribution at retail dealerships across the country.

Volvos have slightly below average resale values in the Canadian used car market compared to rivals from Germany. Over a 5-year ownership period, Volvos retain around 40-45% of original value on average versus 50% or more for BMW, Mercedes and Audi models. However, certified pre-owned Volvo models sold through dealerships retain over 50% thanks to extended warranty coverage. And Volvos surpass domestic brands for resale value while having lower maintenance costs.

Modern Volvos with turbocharging and high performance variants require premium 91 octane gasoline for maximum efficiency and engine longevity per the manufacturer recommendations in the owner’s manual. However, some base model Volvos with naturally aspirated engines like the previous generation S60 T5 can safely run on regular 87 octane fuel without issue. When in doubt, check your owner’s literature for the recommended fuel grade to use in Canada.

The expected lifespan of Volvo brake pads and rotors varies depending on driving style and conditions. In general, Volvo brake components last around 40,000-70,000 km in normal Canadian driving before needing replacement. Aggressive driving and winter road salt accelerate wear on pads and rotors. Premium brands of brake parts optimized for European vehicles help extend Volvo brake component life for Canadian owners.

Certain model year Volvos had some transmission reliability problems, specifically those equipped with the AW55-51SN 5-speed automatic gearbox. Issues center around premature wear of internal components requiring overhaul or replacement between 130,000-180,000 km in some cases. The GM-sourced 4T65EV/GT 4-speed automatic has also required early repairs on Canadian vehicles. However, Volvo’s Aisin Warner and in-house transmissions have proven very durable in Canada.

The best model years for a used Volvo XC90 in Canada are 2016 and newer. These model years saw big improvements in technology, power and efficiency. The latest 2nd generation XC90 that debuted in 2015 has proven very reliable thanks to Volvo’s new Drive-E engines and 8-speed automatic transmission. Optional air suspension also greatly improves the ride. Well-equipped XC90 models provide safety, luxury and capability for Canadian families.

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