03:58:28 pm on
Tuesday 21 May 2024

How Canada Varies
Kate Harveston

Americans are a proud lot and rightfully so. American is the land of the free, with many opportunities and equal rights for all. Americans fought and defeated tyrannies; came to the aid of allies, everywhere, and spread their way of life around the world.

There are a few flaws in the American dream.

Although America can toot its own horn about any number of facts or accomplishments, there are many things it could do better. It can begin by looking to its neighbour to the north, Canada, for some ideas.

Earning a university education is much less expensive in Canada, roughly $6000 CDN$ per academic year, than in the United States, making it affordable and available to more people. This is because most Canadian universities are public and government funded. In the United States, this is not usually the case.

This wide discrepancy in cost has actually led to an increase in Americans going to university in Canada. Don’t expect the same rates. International, noncitizen students have to pay more, somewhere around $12,000 to $25,000, depending on circumstances; at Harvard University, the undergraduate tuition is $46,816 US$ per academic year, whereas New York State recently did away with tuition at state-run universities and colleges.

Health care in Canada is essentially free to all. This is not the case in the USA, where people depend on health care coverage through their employer. With the astronomical rise in health care costs, many employers have done away with providing coverage to their employees. In Canada, health care has nothing to do with your job or lack thereof.

Canadian health care costs are controlled and pharmaceutical prices are set by negotiations with the government. Canada spends about ten percent of its GDP on health care and covers everyone. America spends about eighteen percent and many women, men and children are not covered.

Health care in Canada is government controlled.

In Canada, provincial governments control health care, with help from the federal government. Health care, in Canada, is in place to help and protect the people. This is largely due to the efforts Tommy Douglas, a mid-twentieth century politician and grandfather of actor Kiefer Sutherland.

In the United States, there is little government control of health care, which is seemingly about making money. Greedy insurance and pharmaceutical companies regularly raise prices and copays. This makes health care unaffordable.

Corruption runs amok, in the US health system, as unscrupulous health care providers bill Medicare and Medicaid for tests and services not performed or not needed. Dishonest ambulance companies fraudulently charge for unnecessary trips to the hospital or for trips never taken. These companies inflate their mileage and services provided. All of this underserved income goes to crooked business owners and comes out of the pockets of the American taxpayer. This results in higher premiums and increased costs, which are passed on to the consumer.  

The USA has a large bureaucracy that investigates fraudulent claims under the Fraudulent Claims Act (FCA). Violators are prosecuted and, if guilty, find. The reporting of fraud is encouraged by protecting whistle-blowers who come forward and report such activity.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the incentive to commit such crimes no longer existed? No system is perfect, but Canada has much less of this nonsense; the USA could do better by their example.

In addition to universal health care, Canada espouses some progressive political positions. Canada embraces multiculturalism. It have two national languages, English and French, and many other languages are encouraged and taught in schools.

Canada ceded land and sovereignty to its Indigenous people. In 1999, Nunavut broke off from the eastern portion of the Northwest Territories and became largely independent. It is self-governed and only ceremoniously overseen by the federal government in Ottawa.

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was elected, he chose to have a gender-equal cabinet. Men and women were equally represented, as was the racial makeup of Canada. When asked why he chose to do this, he replied, “because it’s 2015.” The cabinet, of current USA President, is, so far, predominantly white and male, which goes to show that the USA is clearly lagging behind Canada in this aspect.

What America needs is poutine.

Although Canadian beer is widely available in the USA, some of its greatest culinary offerings are not. For example, poutine needs to be on more menus in the USA. Why should Americans have to go all the way to Canada to get ketchup potato chips? Lays makes them.

Americans don’t have to change who they are. They will always be patriotic, flag-waving, hot dog eating people that love cars and sports. However, America can learn from countries like Canada who seem to have a better grasp on some major issues.


Kate Harveston is a US political writer from Pennsylvania. She graduated from Mansfield University, a liberal arts school in Pennsylvania, and is interested in anything related to politics, law and culture, especially how these areas intersect. Harveston writes on a variety of topics, but she is especially interested in social change and human rights. When not writing, Kate Harveston curls up with a book or hikes the wilderness in a quest for inspiration. Visit her blog, Only Slightly Biased.

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