I’ve been a proud Canadian for 25 years – and that’s not about to change. I like the snow, I’m extremely grateful for the safety, and I’m quite fond of my spoiled, entitled white privilege. While my experience has taught me that many of the Canadian stereotypes are false – regrettably, no, we don’t fight bears for the hell of it – I still love my country, and I love the life I’ve been able to build as a result of my citizenship.
BUT. We’re not perfect. Going back to that white privilege joke I made (did you think I was being serious?), we are fortunate, yes. There’s no doubt about that. BUT Canada has flaws. Increasingly so, I’m finding. Here’s a quick look at five of the top things that we, as a country, are doing wrong.
Note: While it didn’t quite make this list, Netflix, if you’re listening, please improve our selection. American’s aren’t the only ones who deserve good TV.
1. Dental care. This is less about quality of care and more about cost. High, high cost. You know that feeling when you can’t sleep because you just spent $150 to get a low-quality, monochrome photo taken of your decaying molar? Yes, we’ve all been there. What about the fact that it costs $3000 for a tooth implant? Considering I’m saving for a mortgage, I think I’ll adapt to survive without it, thank you very much.
Needless to say, while Canada has been ahead of the game in terms of health care for a while, there’s still room for improvement. And that’s not even considering the wait times… “You, sir, with the broken pelvis? It’ll be another six hours. Just take a seat.”
2. Education. Setting aside the fact that many long hours of my childhood would have been much better spent painting pretty pictures and refining my writing craft than practicing multiplication flashcards (if you don’t believe that I retained none of it, ask my family), let’s shift our focus from subject discrimination to money, shall we? When you search “education costs in Canada”, one of the first resources that pops up is a link to a debt calculator. What does that tell you? Today, in our beautiful, snowy nation, getting an education means being broke for years – even decades – of your adult life. Meanwhile, tuition rates are still climbing.
National Post recently reported that while only a small amount of published research exists on the connection, student debt is directly linked to the development of mental health issues. And no wonder. While we certainly aren’t the only country with high educational costs, we’re failing miserably in comparison to others – Sweden and Denmark, for instance – where post-secondary education is completely free to citizens.
3. Five-day work weeks. Speaking of Sweden and Denmark, these two countries-to-be are among the list of nations that have adopted a 4-day work week. On top of that, professionals from these countries have the right to a lot more paid vacation that we do. And they perform better! Studies show that those who put in less hours at work have higher productivity rates and less of a disgruntled attitude toward their job. Nevertheless, Canada continues to hold tight to the traditional 9-5 workday, five days out of seven. And is it just me or is the government secretly making our weekends shorter and shorter?
4. Internal travel. I can buy a plane ticket to London, England, at this very moment, for just over $700. If I wanted to take the same airline to British Columbia, it would cost me just under $700. Cheaper, yes. But barely. You would think, considering it’s in the same nation, that traveling to BC would be dramatically more cost-effective. When I lived in the UK, I once hopped on a plane and flew to France, from Wales, for £12. Okay, it was a bit more than that… but you catch my drift. In the meantime, if you’re a Canadian who wants to see more of your own country, start saving your pennies now and be prepared to hand over your first born child to the airline as compensation.
5. Male privilege. Jesus Christ. It’s never-ending. A recent statistic released by StatsCanada revealed that Canadian women earn 87¢ an hour to men’s $1. The article emphasizes the fact that this wage gap has shrunk by 10¢ since 1981. Congratulation, ladies! We’ve managed to close the gap by 1/10 of a dollar in 36 years. And we get to wear pants!
Just one other note, before the fiery anger within me subsides – this same article reveals that women in Canada are still more likely to work in “traditionally female fields” (let’s blow past that word choice) such as nursing, teaching, social work and service sectors. More specifically, 56% of women still work in these fields, a figure that has shrunk by only 8% since 1987. In contrast, only 25% of women in Canada are employed in professional science roles, almost the same percentage of women who manage to claw their way into senior management positions across the workforce. Women are less likely to be employed, more likely to work part time “often because they’re caring for children” – can you say oppressive? – and display a higher rate of performing unpaid labour… like what, exactly?
Emily Watson is a freelance writer and certified yoga and medical Qi Gong instructor. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature and has been writing – creatively and otherwise – for ten years. Off the mat and away from the keyboard, Emily can be found hiking, camping and traveling with her wife and fur babies. She currently lives and works for a publishing company in Peterborough, Ontario.