UK, US, and Canuck Health Care Systems — Has Canada Really Got It That Bad?

Healthcare in Canada UK USYou remember our little discussion the other day about the differences in financial systems? Yeah, well, I’m still thinkin about the general idea of how different our cultures are. I’ve found the health care debates in the US particularly fascinating. Now, I wonder if Canada has the best idea

Health Care In The UK

The social health care system in the UK seems to be a hybrid between the US and Canadian systems. For instance, it costs them nothing to see a doctor during the day. However, if they’d like a private session after hours, the patient makes the arrangements and pays for the service. Seems fair enough to me. Oh, and like Canada, there’s often a waiting list to get in for some services.

When it comes to prescriptions, UK residents play a flat fee per medication. However, those with a low income can apply for free prescriptions (Now this is something Canada could certainly use!) This all sounds good, but not everything in terms of healthcare is free. For example, women in the UK are getting Botox injections and facelifts to look younger. And, because these are an elective treatment, the costs fall fully on the patient, but they actually aren’t that horribly expensive.

Canadian Health Care

I’ll admit that I’ve spent a lot of time going through the health care system, and I have to say that generally, it’s pretty darn good. Yes, we have a significant issue with waiting lists. And yes, there seems to be a ‘get ’em in and get ’em out’ attitude in some places, but I’ve never been turned away for care. Ever. Even when I panicked as a first time mom, and ran to the emergency for my son’s first cold.

I’ve also paid for elective surgeries and treatments. Unfortunately, this also includes regular, everyday items like birth control pills, even when it was for medical reasons rather than for preventing pregnancy. And like those living in the UK, I’ve considered plastic surgery such as a tummy tuck, which I’m going to have to pay for regardless where we live. It doesn’t bother me though. I mean it’s like choosing between an old Ford Taurus and a Lexus right? Not necessary. Just nice.

I do think that Canada could take a few cues from the US and the UK when it comes to private care.

What Canada Can Learn From US and the UK

In the US, the government wants to offer government run insurance, and it sounds to me like they’ll also have some government run facilities. If you can afford to buy insurance and think a private company can offer your family something better. And, as I mentioned before, doctors can work privately after hours.

Why can’t Canada adopt similar policies? If you want to get in faster, or have an elective surgery, why can’t you pay for it all? You’d get what you want as a patient, the doctors could earn extra money, and it would ease some of the strain on our health care system? Makes sense to me. If you don’t want to pay for it, or can’t afford it, you’re good.

I don’t know. What do you think? Overall, I think Canadians have it pretty good.

(This post also appears on Travel the Prairies at http://www.traveltheprairies.com/canada/uk-us-canuck-health-care-canada/)

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How Much Are Canadians Like Their UK Counterparts — A Look at Financial Systems

It doesn’t seem to matter where you live these days, there’s a lot of complaining over high costs and how our financial systems really work. I also know the best way to learn about your world it to look at it from the outside. So, I started to wonder what the real difference is at the ground level. You know, what differences would I notice if I were to move to the UK for instance? After all, our countries can’t be that different. Right?

Canadian and UK Credit Card Deals

I figured if I were going to notice one huge difference, it’d be with my Canadian credit cards. So, I headed to the mbna website to look for the best UK credit card deal. I have to admit that their interest rate of 15.9% was better than ours, which averages somewhere around the 19% mark.

They have low APR credit cards in the UK just like we do here, and the system seems to be exactly the same. Even the application process appeared to be the same. In fact, if I hadn’t seen the little symbol for British Pounds and their phone numbers, I’d have not been able to tell that it wasn’t Canadian.

What I did find interesting, however, was the kinds of credit cards they had. For instance, they had cards that let you support your favorite football team (English football, not our football). They also offered cards that supported charity. I think these are great ideas.

With the football credit cards, you collect points for every Pound you put on the card. Then, when you get enough points, you trade them in for official merchandise and the team receives the money. Charity cards are available too and they work in much the same way.

Of course, we have this kind of thing too, but the money goes back into our own pockets, or we trade them for some cool gadget, rather than giving it to a good cause. Interesting. Does this possibly mean that Canadians are more self-serving than those in the UK?

Mortgages in the UK

It seems that the UK mortgage system isn’t a whole lot different from ours. Anyone with less than perfect credit will find it difficult to get one. And, the housing market seems to be the craps to put it mildly. House prices are falling, and yet they’re giving away fewer and fewer mortgages.

There are a few differences that don’t seem too major, but if you were going to buy a home there, it would make a huge difference. For example, it seems first time homebuyers in the UK have to have 10-15% to put down on their homes. Here, it’s still 5%. Also, those with blemished credit would find it far more difficult to get a mortgage in the UK than they would in Canada. However, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing and Canada seems to be moving that way as well.

It seems that the two countries might not be a different in this regards as I thought. But, it certainly seems to outline a difference in the two cultures. Just by looking at the two financial systems alone, it seems that the UK had cut out the needless spending (or just never started). Interesting, and definitely something to consider anyway.

(This post also appears on Travel the Prairies at http://www.traveltheprairies.com/canada/canadians-uk-financial-systems/)

80 Million Year Old Fierce Sea Creature Found By Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre

Fiece Ancient Sea Creature Discovered by the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre

Fierce Ancient Sea Creature Discovered by the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre

©2008Angie Haggstrom

In the town of Morden, Manitoba sits the very exited staff of the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre. The source of the excitement is the discovery of an 80 million year old mosasaur no far from Miami, Manitoba. The eerie prehistoric creature is said to be the biggest find in the province in more than 25 years.

The skeleton is estimated to be between 10-12 metres long and was thought to be the king of the ocean back in the day. The creature is believed to have breathed air. In its skeletal jaw, the creature sported teeth just over 5″(13cm). Even with massive teeth like that, the mosasaur could dislocate its jaw willingly to devour larger meals. The centre’s curator believes it may be an earlier relative of the snakes, a crocodile with fins, or a Komodo dragon that inhabits the earth today.

The mosasaur, named Angus, won’t be lonely at the centre. The centre has another mosasaur named Bruce who was discovered in 1974 at Thornhill, Manitoba. Other fossils have also been discovered in the same area Angus has been sleeping for millions of years making the area a priceless find.

Perhaps most interesting about this story is the fact that the ancient monster was discovered by visitors and summer students to the center during a public dig. The Discovery Centre holds all sorts of different programs and workshops not only for children and intern paleontologists, but also for the general public. They hold digs where members of the public can accompany professionals into the field to look for real dinosaur bones and not fake ones buried in the sand like with many programs. The centre also offers trained volunteer positions to those staying in the area.

The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre holds approximately 600 different objects from the late Cretaceous period. The centre focuses purely on marine reptile fossils although it does house many different fossil plants, minerals, rocks, and invertebrates. The centre is open from 1-5 every afternoon all year around. At the time of this post, they only charge $6 per adult, $3 per student, and $12 per family. What an inexpensive afternoon!

For more information, please visit the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre or you can learn more about Mosasaurs on Wikipedia.

(This post can also be found here: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/manitoba/80-million-sea-creature-canadian-fossil-discovery-centre/)

Crocodiles and Antique Aircraft: An Insider’s Guide to Brandon, Manitoba, Canada

Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum

Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum

©2008AngieHaggstrom

Brandon, Manitoba is one of my favorite places to travel. This city gives you a sense of freedom and just seems to have the perfect thing for everyone. It’s small, picturesque university is truly one of the best. The people here are supportive and friendly. The shopping is absolutely fantastic – city prices with small town service. Besides, where else can you see crocodiles and amazing aircraft in the same vacation.

If you are traveling through on the number 1 (Trans-Canada), you will notice a large yellow airplane on the north side of the highway. Turn north here. If you are going to stop anywhere, this is a great place. The Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum is a massive building is filled with real, genuine airplane and vehicles used by the British Commonwealth from 1939 to 1945. Even though I’m not much of an airplane fanatic or war history buff. This museum was really something to see and we will definitely be going again.

The airplanes and vehicles are fantastic. Each one of them was fixed and rebuilt by volunteers who really are the stars of this place. When we arrived, a friendly and knowledgeable staff greeted us and we were could walk through at our leisure. This was great considering we had my son with who had more interest in some things and less in others. We ran into a volunteer who was putting together another airplane and he provided us with a lot of first hand information about the planes and vehicles throughout the building as well as how these planes are recovered and pieced together. He really made the tour fantastic. They do have an online tour available.

If you happen to drive down 18th street in Brandon, make a stop at the Daly House Museum. The house once belonged to Brandon’s first lawyer and mayor, and a children’s shelter. Where this museum truly shines is that it was built in 1882. This house is absolutely filled with pictures, furniture, and artifacts from the city’s past. We spent a lot of time hearing about the many different stories are held in the house. You can see the time and passion that was put into the research and preservation of each piece.

A short drive east of Brandon is the Canada’s National Artillery Museum. Found at CFB Shilo, it is a great way to see and learn about the armed forces and peacekeepers that have served all over the world. You can get a taste of what there is to see and do by visiting the Virtual Artillery Museum of Canada.

Westman Reptile Gardens

Westman Reptile Gardens

On the way back, stop at the Westman Reptile Gardens. The center is a wealth of crawling creatures including spiders, snakes, crocodiles, turtles, and lizards. The people at the center are extremely knowledgeable in the field and are really friendly.

For outdoor enjoyment, the Elenor Kidd Gardens are really well done and have a different look and feel each time you visit. Ducks Unlimited and Brandon Tourism run the Riverbank Discovery Center. It is a great place to learn about the Assiniboine River system. You can walk through the ponds on the trails, grab souvenirs, enjoy an afternoon relaxing and even have a picnic. It also connects to Dinsdale Park along the bank of the river. There is a train car for the kids to explore and plenty of other fun things to do in the area while enjoying the fresh Manitoba air.

If you think these places are great, just wait till you see the shopping, dining and accommodations in Brandon. We’ll explore those tomorrow. In the meantime, if you would like to see what else the city has to offer and visit Brandon Manitoba online they have a great website that includes a list of what’s going on in the city each day.

(This post can also be found here: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/manitoba/crocodiles-antique-aircraft-insiders-guide-brandon-manitoba-canada/)

UFO’s and Extraterrestrials Welcomed By Alberta Towns

UFOs and Star Trek Friends Welcomed with Open Arms in Alberta

UFOs and Star Trek Friends Welcomed with Open Arms in Alberta

©2008AngieHaggstrom

While most Alberta towns cater to those who travel through on the highways or arrive on hiking trails, some Alberta communities welcome guests from the air, and I don’t mean airplanes. St. Paul, AB has the world’s first Flying Saucer Landing Pad. The landing pad is complimented by a full UFO Interpretive Display and tourist information centre to learn about everything from cattle mutilations, UFO’s, crop circles, and even records creative of hoaxes that have been created.

The town of St. Paul, Alberta is located just a short drive to the Northeast of Edmonton, AB. You really can’t miss it. It’s the big, odd looking structure right on the edge of town. The Landing Pad is constructed out of 130 tons of cement and six 30 inch columns. At the back of the UFO Landing Pad is a map of Canada that is made from stones from each of the Canadian Provinces.

It was built specifically for Canada’s Centennial in 1967 and was opened by the Minister of National Defence. The tourist information center was opened to visitors in the 1990s. The Flying Saucer Landing Pad has yet to welcome an intergalactic visitor, but it enjoys seeing thousands of tourists every year. In 2000, the center even hosted a UFO conference.

Another Alberta travel destination that welcomes intergalactic visitors is the town of Vulcan, AB located not far from Calgary, AB. This is a must stop for Space Trek fans and UFO-goers alike. Almost the entire town carries a Star Trek theme including the Enterprise-A from Star Trek V and murals. The Tourism and Trek Station has all of the information you ever wanted to know about the area and the famed movie. The also have a virtual reality game to enjoy.

When it comes to events, the town has become famous for its Star Trek convention also known as VulCon and Galaxyfest/Spock Days. Their website features a great video made by the town that gives you great insight into the creativeness and friendly nature of the town and shows how involved the area is in the world of Star Trek. It definitely makes for an interesting Canadian vacation!

I would like to say thanks to Rob for the heads up! He hosts a great blog called ‘Tome of the Unknown Blogger’. Please check it out!

(This post can be found on Travel the Prairie’s new home at http://www.traveltheprairies.com/alberta/ufos-extraterrestrials-alberta-towns/)

Great Saskatchewan Oddities and Roadside Attractions

Anyone who travels through Saskatchewan will notice the many oddities and interesting things Saskatchewan residents like to honor. You all know what these are. These are the “World’s Biggest…” that everyone likes to get a picture of or at least you gawk at it as you go by. Some of these look so strange, you just have to stop to find out what it is.

Churchbridge decided to show the world how crazy we really could be and built the ‘World’s Biggest Loonie.’ In reality, it was constructed in order to honor Artist Rita Swanson who designed the 125th birthday coin.

They weren’t the only ones to honor a Canadian symbol. Moose Jaw has the ‘World’s Biggest Moose.’ Mac the Moose is 32′ long, 24′ wide, and 30′ high and is constructed of metal piping and metal mesh. He weighs approximately 10 tons. The town of Eston constructed an 8′ high statue of their favorite prairie resident from Tyndalstone. The World’s Biggest Gopher weighs approximately 3 000lbs and was made in honor of their annual Gopher Derby. The village of Sceptre has the tallest wheat plant in North America while Cabri has a goose with a 12′ wingspan, an 8′ high antelope, and 13′ wheat stocks.

The World’s Biggest Grasshopper can be found at Wilkie and measures 18’x6′ as a tribute to the people of the town. While Govan has the Whooping Crane and Kyle (not far from Cabri) has a big Wooly Mammoth, Porcupine Plain has, well, a porcupine. Quilly Willy (at the bottom of the page) is the town’s 13′ town mascot. Parkside has a Giant Red Lily that stands 26′ high and honors the man who developed the flower.

These might all seem quite normal, but just wait. Rocanville has the world’s largest Oil Can, diamond, and ball cap. Vonda, a small town of only 300 people has the world’s biggest still. That’s right. Moonshine. Cut Knife built the world’s largest Tomahawk in a teepee as a symbol of peace and unity with the aboriginals who live in the area. (It was built in the ’70s that should explain it.)

Now Davidson really got it right in1996 when they build the 24′ Coffee pot with a Cup. That’s my kinda town! The original idea was to portray the town’s friendliness and hospitality. Lancer has bunches of Chokecherries in honor of their annual Chokecherry Festival (Chokecherry jam is fantastic!) and Saint Isadore du Bellvue has a pea plant. Let’s not forget the world’s largest paper clip thanks to the guy who traded his paperclip on Ebay and eventually wound up with a house in Saskatchewan. (You can read the story at http://oneredpaperclip.blogspot.com/)

What made me pull over was Macklin’s World’s Largest Bunnock. When you see it, you’ll get it.

To see the world’s largest Kielbassa (that’s a good one!) and other oddities in the Canadian Prairies, Visit CBC’s Blue Sky post or Tourism Saskatchewan.

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(This post can now be found here: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/saskatchewan/saskatchewan-oddities-roadside-attractions/)