I am often asked on Quora, Twitter and other social media what is so great about Canada. So many people around the world feel that Canada is the country cousin to the US. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, I think it’s the other way around.
UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE
No Canadian citizen generally ever has to take a credit card to a hospital or a doctor’s office. Almost everything, including many surgeries, chemotherapy treatments for cancer patients – even the full cost of most cancer and HIV ‘medications – is fully covered by most provincial health care systems.
And we have some of the most advanced hospitals in the world. In fact, we have over 830 hospitals amongst this little population of only 37 million. And the top 5 have over 1,000 beds each!
The one I’m most familiar with, Vancouver General Hospital (a city I lived in for 13 years, and a hospital that I was a patient in for 17 days when I had pneumonia in 2005), is actually a massive campus that’s nearly 4 city blocks long, and has several large buildings – one of the 15, the Jimmy Pattison Pavilion (the main building) being 17 stories.
In fact according to a World Health Organization report “MEASURING OVERALL HEALTH SYSTEM PERFORMANCE FOR 191 COUNTRIES”, in 2021, Canada is ranked #30 best healthcare system in the world. The United States is #36.
Jealous and severely-uninformed Americans believe that our wait lists are terribly long, our hospitals are a socialist shambles, and that government-run medicine can’t compare to “for profit” healthcare. However, I can walk into any hospital emergency room anywhere in Canada today and see a doctor generally within an hour or so, depending on the busyness of the emergency room that night.
Vancouver General Hospital, for example, has a Da Vinci robot used in surgeries, for things like kidney transplants. I attended the dedication for the $7 million robot, which has 6 arms that can have different attachments added to them. The robot cut its own ribbon to dedicate itself! It gives a surgeon a 3D picture inside the individual, allowing them to “see behind” organs that they can’t physically see without moving organs out of the way. The surgeon operates it like a video game controller.
According to one report in the American Journal of Medicine, 62.1% of bankruptcies were caused by medical issues.”
A 2019 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation ) and the Los Angeles Times found that:
*1 in 5 people surveyed have been contacted by collection agencies, while 9% of those surveyed stated they had declared personal bankruptcy due to medical expenses.”*
Unreal. That is the true legacy of for-profit healthcare.
POST SECONDARY EDUCATION
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Canada maintains its standing as the most educated country in the world , with 56.7% of Canadian adults having received a post-secondary degree. That’s 10.3% higher than the U.S. and 19.8% higher than the OECD average. Rounding out the top three is Japan at 51.4% and Israel at 50.9%.
According to EducationData.org, in 2019, the US national graduation rate was 84.6%. In Canada it is 88%, according to the Conference Board of Canada. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), 21% of adults in the United States (about 43 million) fall into the illiterate/functionally illiterate category. Nearly 2/3 of fourth graders read below grade level, and the same number graduate from high school still reading below grade level. This puts the United States well behind several other countries in the world, including Japan, all the Scandinavian countries, Canada, the Republic of Korea, and the UK.
And when the student didn’t graduate from high school, Canadian drop outs still earned more than their US counterparts by a significant amount, as the above chart shows. In fact, Canadian drop outs earned about 80% of what a high school grad would earn. American drop outs were down to about 65% earnings compared to their American counterparts.
U.S. News & World Report 2020 Best Countries rankings began 5 years ago, measuring global perceptions of 73 nations, chosen because they contribute most to the world’s GDP. More than 21,000 people around the world were asked to evaluate the countries based on 65 metrics, ranging from stability to transparency to equality.
The United States, #8 in 2019, moved up to #7 in 2020. The Top five in order are:
But the best known reputation tracking is annually produced by the *Reputation Institute ‘s Country RepTrak. In 2019, it surveyed more than 58,000 people from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S. and asked them to rank the 55 countries with the greatest gross domestic product, as well as the nations that are familiar to at least 51% of the population of G8 countries. They were also asked to consider to what extent each nation has an “advanced economy, an appealing environment and an effective government.”
For 6 of the previous 7 years, Canada was either #1 or #2 most trusted nation on earth, including in 2017 – when it was announced, just 3 days before Canada turned 150 on July 1, that we had once again reached the #1 spot. That year, the US global reputation was ranked at #38.
In 2020, thanks in part to a disastrous Liberal government, we dropped to #6. But the United States also dropped 2 spots to land at #36 on this year’s list, and the rankings published by Forbes note that esteem for the U.S. has been “in steep decline” since 2016.
As one who has travelled to Europe twice, Australia, and the US many times, I know that Canada’s reputation around the world has been of major benefit to Canadian citizens travelling abroad. It has been a well-known fact for many years that even sewing a Canadian flag icon to your backpack when travelling can get you better service in restaurants, strike up great conversations with people around the world, and fosters good will you might not otherwise have.
I’ve even heard of some Americans doing this, to pretend they are Canadians, and avoid the “Ugly American” reputation known around the world. In fact, it happens so often that people pretend to be Canadians around the world when they aren’t – Huffington Post even wrote an article explaining how to tell genuine Canadian travellers from the frauds.
In Paris, I watched a waitress one night literally bypass a table of Americans on several occasions to serve me – making a special point of it when I hadn’t asked for anything, and they were trying to get her attention. One of my work colleagues used to serve in the Canadian military in Germany, and told me that one night, several Canadian soldiers went into a restaurant in the Black Forest area of Germany, and when exiting, they noticed that local authorities had ticketed every American army vehicle parked in the area – but their lone Canadian military vehicle, parked amongst the American ones on the same street, was the only one not ticketed.
But it was my trip to Sydney, Australia in 2010 that demonstrated very openly what a huge blessing it is to be recognized as a Canadian when I travel.
I was very moved by the overwhelming show of love and respect I was shown by the unbelievably beautiful people of Australia toward me personally, when they found out I as from Canada.
Of course, our two nations are British Commonwealth sisters, but our love for each other isn’t just some connection from the past. Canada and Australia have such a powerful relationship with each other today, for reasons that are hard to put into words.
I will never forget standing in line at a KFC in Sydney one day, and got talking to people in the line as we waited. When they found out I was from Vancouver, Canada, I was fussed over like I was visiting royalty.. I was ushered to the front of the line – it was truly incredible. I’ve never been so proud to be Canadian in my life. I have since met several Australians in Canada who told me that they loved being in Canada as well, because they were so overwhelmingly and universally loved when they came to visit. And it’s so true – an Australian accent in Canada unlocks almost every heart in our country.
I’m sorry to say, the same is not true when it comes to our next door neighbour America, however. We have all experienced “ugly Americans”, which is both so unfortunate, and so unnecessary. Having a nation with a great global reputation has been a huge blessing. A Canadian passport truly is a very desirable document to own. At no time in my life have I ever felt that I wanted to hide being a Canadian. If I had been an American, I know there were certainly times in history where it would have been a good idea to keep that information under wraps.
But does a country’s reputation really matter anyway? Events that make front-page news play a big role, as do economic and environmental conditions and so much else. Consciously or unconsciously, people rely on these reputations when deciding where to set up a business, where to live and where to travel on vacation. Canada is certainly a competitive nation on all these fronts. Many people want to immigrate to Canada on purpose, versus the US, because we are known as a safe place to raise family, are considered globally as polite and kind people, and our nation rarely does things globally that people consider to be a negative, including militarily and politically.
“Reputation determines whether people support a country through their behaviors. Good reputation means more exports, more investments, more people coming to visit,”
– Nicolas Georges Trad, Chief Operating Officer, Reputation Institute
LOWER CRIME RATES
In almost any leading indicator imaginable, Canada’s national crime rate statistics are much lower than in the US, as Statistics Canada has reported in 2006, in “CRIME COMPARISONS BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES”:
For example, there were 606 homicides reported by police in Canada, for a rate of 1.94 per 100,000 population, compared to 19,160 homicides in the U.S., for a rate of 6.42 per 100,000 population.
Yes, I get that the US population is 10 times larger, but that doesn’t explain WHY they had 31.6 times more murders than we did in 2006 alone?
Similarly, the aggravated assault rate in the U.S. was more than double the Canadian rate in 2000, for example. The U.S. also showed a 65% higher rate of robbery than Canada. About 41% of robberies in the U.S. involved a firearm, compared to 16% in Canada. In examining arrest/charge data, the U.S. had much higher rates for drug offences, impaired driving and prostitution.
The report compares crime rates among the nine largest metropolitan areas in each country. With the exception of Boston, the remaining eight large American metropolitan areas had homicide rates much higher than any of the nine largest Canadian metropolitan areas.
Gun crimes continue to be a massive driver in the United States, and decriminalizing marijuana in all of Canada in the last few years certainly has reduced the crime rate for drug charges. But regardless, it matters to parents of school aged children that they can raise kids in a nation with a high standard of living, but without all the fears associated with a US inner city. Our public schools are not much different than our private schools, unlike the huge discrepancies seen in America. And few Canadian cities have inner cities that resemble the ghettos found in the US.
I don’t understand the level of gun ownership in the US, however. I am not anti-gun at all, but according to this chart, there are 120.5 guns for every 100 people in the US. That just is so ridiculous. There are many Americans with mental illness, that most definitely should not be allowed anywhere near a gun. Canada’s gun ownership rate is nearly 1/4 of that. That seems more realistic to me.
Now, I know that many Americans will be offended by this article. With respect, get over it. You are a military, financial, and political superpower that is for millions the greatest dream nation to live in. I get that. Canada has shared the largest undefended border in the world with you for over 150- years, and we are thankful for you. Millions of Canadians love and admire America, and I am one of them.
But do not assume that I will belittle my own nation to recognize your prominence. America doesn’t bother to know anything about Canada – your largest trading partner, with over $1 trillion in cross-border trade. We are your best friend in the world, and closest ally on Earth. Sorry, but I don’t care about your “special relationship” with the United Kingdom. You fought a war to get away from them. You could show Canada a bit more attention than you do. We fought side by side with you in every major war for over 100 years, with the exception of Vietnam, which we didn’t enter officially. Yet, 35,000 Canadians joined the US Army to fight in that war as well.
Do you get it ? We love you America. But many people in the world do not. And that concerns us. Politically, you have become highly unstable, and have allowed a lot of foreign and internal adversaries to desconstruct what made you powerful and great for centuries. You need to get it together.
Canada will continue to stand by you through thick and thin. Buit while Canada’s global star power continues to ascend, America seems to be collapsing from within. That doesn’t hearten me. That doesn’t excite me. It grieves me. As America goes, so goes the rest of us.
America, you are the greatest, most generous, most powerful, most influential, most creative, most inventive, mightiest nation the world has ever known. Act like it. We need you to continue to be it. By “we”, I mean THE WORLD.
Not convinced I love you? Read my article from a few years ago – Canada’s love letter to her sister, America: