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How Canada Is Out-Living The US?

Posted by on July 1, 2008


I open my email today, on what is possibly the most beautiful day of the year weather wise, to see an article forwarded from a friend with the subject line: “How Canada Stole The American Dream“.

Who’s not going to read an article like that on Canada Day?

The article was published in Maclean’s Magazine, which is The Canadian equivalent of Time but with a large portion devoted to Canadian centric issues; you know, polar bears, ice fishing, snow shoeing, and drinking some pretty fantastic beer.

The essential premise of the article is that a group of Maclean’s staffers have been compiling reports on everything under the sun comparing the two nations on a per capita basis. It seems they scoured through anything from surveys, consumer reports, census reports, polls, scientific studies, policy papers and consumer databases.

Some of their main discoveries were quite amazing;

  • Canadians have more sex, more adventurous sex, yet surprisingly less teen pregnancies or STDs.

In an article in the same issue, Canada is referred to as the Insatiable North, but surprisingly its reported that nearly 1/3 of American girls are pregnant before the age of 20, making the US teen pregnancy rate the highest in the Western world. This is not a statistic I’d want in my record books. The biggest culprit seems to be the US school system and the clear opposition to informing American children about the options and benefits of birth control. As many US states seem to get their sexual education curriculum from old Leave It To Beaver episodes, promoting abstinence as the only course of action, Canadians are more willing to educate their children fully and engage in open discussion.

  • Canadians are much healthier than Americans even though we pay half as much for health care, and sometimes not even that much

There is obviously a huge divide in the US over the issue of universal health care which I will leave for another time, but a few things always stick with me when this issue comes up. I just can’t believe that in the US you have to PAY to have a baby. That alone blows my mind. I understand those that luckily have insurance are probably covered, but that a c-section is somewhere around the $15,000 mark, not including pre-natal care is completely insane to me. I’d appreciate if someone could give me some more concrete numbers for this, or even some feedback on why some Americans wouldn’t want universal health care. I am clearly bias because I’ve enjoyed many free visits to emergency rooms, family doctors and specialists throughout the years and not paid one cent. So like I said, when it comes to a rational, logical argument for not wanting a universal system, I personally just don’t see.

  • Canadians get married later in life. Partly because we’re less traditional, less religious, and well…because Quebec leads the world in common-law couples. (Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?)
  • Americans stay put in their country while Canadians travel the globe

This stat I have to say is skewed in favour of Canadians and not quite fair. The majority of our ‘out-of-country’ travel is to the US, which totally makes sense to me. If I was an American, I know I’d much rather stay in my own country and go to Disneyland or DisneyWorld than head north of the border to see what Saskatoon has to offer. I mean, I love where I’m from, and I’m uber-proud to be a Canadian, but every year from December-March when the snow and temperature is falling fast, find me my passport and get me the hell out of here.

  • Even though median family incomes are nearly equally between U.S. and Canada, Canadians carry less debt and work fewer hours. Making us richer in overall time and value.(and these stats were taken from before the subprime disaster)

I think the issue of debt is one of the biggest epidemics facing Americans and Canadians alike. It seems for both countries, the problem begins at university. I moved to another city for my university years and my costs for one year was just over ten thousand. Luckily, between some terrific summer jobs, a few ‘fundraisers’ (see: parties) I ran, and the money my parents had saved for my school, I finished university completed debt free. I will always be grateful to my parents for this. But some are not as fortunate and so beings the perpetual cycle of debt. With $40,000 of debt on your shoulders out of university, most people are heading straight into the workforce whether you like it or not, and typically into jobs you’d rather not have. Couple this with the US being the ultimate ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ consumer society and you have credit card debt to tack along to your lifestyle.

It seems both sides of the border we’ve created a culture where people are made to feel inferior if they don’t have the newest shirts, this season’s shoes or the latest i-gadget. We seem to be taking hefty steps backwards from what’s really important, and sacrificing quality of life to move towards a continent that thinks a Sex In The City mentality is normal. You are not who you wear just as you are not what you drive.

So though it was great to read about how Canada, and Canadians at large have grown and prospered as a country over the past few decades, this certainly is not a reason to sit back on our laurels. I think its time for both countries to take a look at one another and instead of competing in a game of endless statistics, we need to learn from one another and grow together.

On this gorgeous day, I want to send out a Happy Canada Day to Canadians abroad or at home celebrating with family and friends, and enjoying the wonderful lifestyle we’ve worked fewer hours to achieve. And ya, congrats on the extra sex as well.

Ooooooooooooooooo Canada.


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