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


You Know You’re From A Small Saskatchewan Prairie Town When…

Life in a Small Town

Life in a Small Town


Have you ever had one of those days where the true realization of your life comes at you in one of those head smacking moments? I’ve had one of those days and it ‘gots me ta tinkin’ about how living in a small town Saskatchewan is almost like living in your own little world.

I never truly appreciated the separate culture this little town had until my first time living in the ‘big city’ (slightly more than 700 000 people, but massive compared with the 2 500 that live here). Everyone dressed different, talked different, did funny things, and looked at me as if I was an alien. In truth, I was.

My little town is unlike anywhere else in the world. Unlike the big city, we have strange traditions. When you see someone on the street, your first instinct isn’t to look away or size up the other person. Nope we smile and wave. It is often accompanied by phrases such as ‘hi, how are you?” even if you’ve never seen that person in your life. Urban dwellers tend to look at you and attempt to figure out whether you have a mental condition or are just trying to get close enough to pick their pockets.

Spurs, cowboy, hats, and pickup trucks are almost like the town uniform. A majority of the time, there are dogs in the back of the truck, and after you live here for a few weeks, you will know their names, where they like to be rubbed, and know who they belong to. In the city, you learn very quickly NOT to pet the puppy.

I can walk down any street in town and many of the houses and vehicles will be sitting unlocked, windows down, and possibly even the keys in it. Now this is becoming less frequent with the influx of new people to town, but it is certainly not rare. On many occasions I’ve left to take something over to someone’s house to be told to just ‘open the door and set it on the kitchen table.’ In the city, I wouldn’t leave the apartment without at least one can of mace and I didn’t even go to get my laundry from down the hall without taking my keys.

Oh yeah, I also learned that when they advertise a one room apartment for rent in the city newspaper, they aren’t kidding. I wasn’t sure how to take that surprise. I thought the only thing ‘one room’ today were the old school houses that sit abandoned just outside of town.

I will admit that a part of me is homesick for the city lifestyle. Even though shopping isn’t my thing, I miss the opportunity to spend a night at the symphony or an afternoon ‘museum-hopping.’ I miss the chance to don a nice gown and dine out for the evening, or put on some party wear and go to see my favorite rock band.

When I begin thinking about how much I miss my life in the city, I think about what I missed while I was there. In my little town, I can walk down the street and recognize almost everyone I see. There is nothing more welcoming than that. When I looked at my small town, I realized that there is no other place in the world better to raise my son. He has the chance to learn about life on a smaller scale before being thrust into a swift moving world of strangers.

This being said, I have nothing against cities or city schools. I simply feel the support and love as well as the torment and heartaches I experienced here made me who I am and I would like to give my son those same opportunities – to grow up innocent.

This whole internal city/country struggle did bring to mind a few sayings we often joke about here. What is scary is how true some of them are…

You know you’re from a small town in Saskatchewan when:

  1. You and a few friends have spent at least one evening going cow-tipping.
  2. The ‘in’ thing to do is to spend the evening driving laps around town. This consists of driving around a five-block radius.
  3. All of the local parties are at ‘the bridge,’ ‘the dam,’ or ‘the tree.’ (There is only one of each in the area and everyone knows where they are.)
  4. You get into trouble downtown and your parents found out about it in the first 15 minutes.
  5. The entire town takes holiday for rodeo weekend.
  6. One of the biggest school events of the year is taking everyone to the bucking horse sale.
  7. When you tried to skip school the principal, who also happens to be your neighbor, knows whose house you’re hiding out in.
  8. Going on a date = a burger run (You drive an hour to pick up a burger and fries from the Burger King drive-thru and head home. On a second date, you might stop at the pool hall on the way back into town.
  9. “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and “Teen Spirit” are played at every dance in town.
  10. You know more than the local newspaper about what’s going on before the paper is even printed.

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(picture provided by xameron from Stock.Xchng)

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