Oh, Canada. To our neighbours to the South, we’re often nothing but a collection of stereotypes; unfailingly kind to a fault, lovers of maple syrup, ending every sentence in “Eh?” like some nervous tic and home to expats looking to escape a certain current administration. There’s a kernel of truth behind all the jokes, otherwise they wouldn’t be funny, but Canada’s rich history proves us so much more. Unlike the U.S.’s expansionist “Go West, young man” American dream, our history is littered with trading posts.
There are some similarities in our darker past, like our troublesome relationship with Native Americans, but the history of Canada is unique in ways often unknown to foreigners. When Michael Moore walked through a “slum” in Toronto in Bowling for Columbine to prove that we’re so fearless of one another, we don’t even lock our doors, this was obviously an exaggeration. Like any country, there are several living in Canada pros and cons:
1. Pro: Universal Health Care
This is probably the first positive aspect of Canada that comes to mind when one is considering settling in the Great White North. The biggest issue on the table in the U.S. primary election currently is the question of healthcare reform. Senator Bernie Sanders often points to us as a model of how to change their incredibly expensive program that leaves millions uninsured. It may not be perfect here, there are certainly drawbacks and hiccups that need fixing, but it’s far better than the alternative.
The Canada Health Act of 1984 indeed ensures that provincial and territorial health plans are run on a strictly non-profit foundation. This covers all doctors, dentists and other medical practices in a hospital setting. Moreover, acquiring a health card is a simple and easy process, only requiring proof or residence and citizenship. The main drawback is largely cosmetic: much longer waiting periods. There are private practices available to citizens, but one would have to be quite wealthy. Frankly, it’s worth the wait.
2. Con: Gender Inequity
This is one area Canada has unfortunately yet to tackle. While far from the worst in male-female equity in terms of employment, pay, balance between work and life and years of education, we still have a lot of catching up to do. In education, for instance, Canada comes in last in 38 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development.
3. Pro: Winter Sports and Recreation
One thing is certain, Canada makes good use of its Northern climate. Winter sports such as skiing, ice skating, hockey and whatever curling is are the predominant activities played or participated in the Winter season. As a result, we rank fifth in the amount of medals one during the Winter Olympics, hosting two of them ourselves.
4. Con: Winter Weather
You probably saw this coming, but with exception to the beautiful west coast, Canada can be excruciatingly cold. Montreal, one of Canada’s most popular tourist cities, has dipped to -40C with wind chill at least once in the past ten years and, just two hours away in the capital city of Ottawa, the temperature doesn’t rise about 0C in the months of November to March. The frigid cold is something locals are often accustomed to, but new residents and visitors might find it unbearable.
5. Pro: Gasoline Prices
The price of gas is always fluctuating, but Canada ranks 14th in costs around the world. It comes in even lower -eighth – in affordability. With changes in the market being wildly unpredictable, particularly in the United States, it’s comforting to know it’s never too difficult to fill a tank.
6. Con: Wireless Costs
This is one area where the U.S. is beating us. Kyle Trueba, an employee at Verizon, spoke about the differences in price for cell phones. “You guys are getting [hosed]”, he said. Canada is the second-highest in cost of wireless services of the G7 nations. For a simple, two gigabite plan, the average cost is 20 per cent higher than that of the States. The recent arrest of Hauwei’s CFO will only worsen matters.
7. Pro: Multiculturalism
When the Syrian refugee crisis began, rather than close our borders, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau threw them open. Unlike the current U.S. policy of strict border security, separating families and trying to shut out asylum seekers, we’re proud of our nation’s openness. We are fourth in the world in welcoming Canadian immigrants to our country. It may be the Statue of Liberty that reads, “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.” Given recent events, such a maxim should be adopted up North.