How often I have heard Canadians express the superiority of our country amongst the nations of the world with universal health care cited as evidence of this proclamation.
If only it were true.
Canada is a wonderful country and ranks high internationally, but far too often we determine our world standing against our neighbour to the south.
Through this continuous comparison between Canada and the United States, we have developed a complacency that I believe has not helped during these times of economic trouble.
Many other countries have free universal health care and many also have far superior social support systems, which reflect in their economic standing in the world.
Australia’s system of student loans, which are paid back over the course of one’s lifetime through an additional individualised tax after one has surpassed a reasonable threshold of income (approximately $42,000 Canadian in the current tax year), is one example.
Unlike Canadian students who are forced to mortgage their future and must repay their loan whether or not they are earning a sufficient income, Australia provides time for the student to seek meaningful employment and earns back much more than the original investment as the repayments are indexed annually. Australia hasn’t had a recession in over 25 years and it is due in large part to social innovation such as outlined above.
My point is that Canada is not ‘the best country in the world’ and we could do ourselves an enormous favour by recognising this fact and engaging in critical self-assessment.
Let us compare ourselves to more than just the United States (because we all know Canada will win in this comparison every time). If we do it well, our economy will reflect it. At this milestone in our wonderful country’s history, let us not continue to be so complacent.
This piece was originally published in the Cape Breton Post on 6 July 2017. You can find it here.