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/)

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

Life in a Small Town

Life in a Small Town

©2008AngieHaggstrom

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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(This post can now be found here: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/saskatchewan/small-saskatchewan-prairie-town/)

Welcome To Corner Gas And The Imaginary Town Of Dog River…AKA Rouleau, Saskatchewan, Canada

Saskatchewan - The Home Of 'Corner Gas' and Dog River

Saskatchewan - The Home Of 'Corner Gas' and Dog River

©2008AngieHaggstrom

For anyone who has seen the television show, a visit to the set of ‘Corner Gas’ is a must see attraction when traveling through Saskatchewan, Canada. Located in the town of Rouleau, the entire set as well as their production studio Canada Saskatchewan Production Studios where the comedy team films its indoor scenes.

For anyone who doesn’t know what Corner Gas is, it is a hilarious comedy series that airs on CTV and the Comedy Network about life in the small town of ‘Dog River’. Former topics included the tearing down of a barn and the burning down of a profitable corn stand. Doesn’t sound funny? Normally you wouldn’t think so, however, the cast of Corner Gas can definitely pull it off.

The stories surround Corner Gas owner ‘Brent’ played by Brent Butt, and the ‘Ruby’ café owned by ‘Lacey’ played by Gabrielle Miller. Other places and characters include his best bud ‘Hank’ played by Fred Ewanuick, gas station employee ‘Wanda’ played by Nancy Robertson, miss-matched police officers ‘Davis’ and ‘Karen’ played by Lorne Cardinal and Tara Spencer-Nairn. Special guests to the show have included Prime Minister Steven Harper and CTV’s Canada AM anchors Beverly Thompson and Seamus O’Regan.

During the tour, you have access to the entire set unless the cast is filming. In that case, you miss seeing that particular part of the set, but maybe you’ll get to meet the stars! You are almost guaranteed to meet Josh Strait who plays ‘Josh the Cook’ on Corner Gas and helps with the tours.

Tours of the set and production studio offered by CNT Tours are a bit pricey, but worth every penny. The entire tour lasts for approximately four and a half hours. They also pick you up, drop you off at one of two pickup points in Regina, and also have a choice of hotel packages to save you some cash.

There are many other things to do in Regina as well. The same company that offers the Corner Gas Tours also offers a Ghost Tour of Regina where you get to see Regina’s best sites in the dark and hear the local folklore. The RCMP Heritage Center is located on the original RCMP Training Academy Grounds and tells the story of law enforcement from the start of the Mounties to the present day. There is also a casino, a concert theater featuring the Regina Symphony Orchestra, hayrides, and many more attractions.

For more information, visit the Tourism Regina site or keep your eye out here for future travel tips about this fun-filled area of Saskatchewan! Additional information on Corner Gas can be found on a blog by darylwaynejosephlorette.

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(This post now appears here: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/saskatchewan/corner-gas-dog-river-rouleau-saskatchewan-canada/)

Dinosaur Eggs, Devils Coulee, And Log Cabins – It’s Gotta Be Alberta!

One of the Many Sights of Southern Alberta, Canada

Travel in Southern Alberta, Canada

©2008Angie Haggstrom

Sadly, the southeast corner of Alberta, Canada is a virtually unknown area to many world travelers. There are no major cities south of Medicine Hat or west of Lethbridge, but what it does have more than makes up for the lack of urban activity. When you travel to the area surrounding Warner, Cardston, and Etzikom, you have a chance to see rare sights such as nests of dinosaur eggs, historic log cabins, and a chance to see real carriages.©2008Angie Haggstrom

South of Medicine Hat, AB, the little town of Etzikom is a great place to start your day of travel and excitement. The Etzikom Museum and Canadian National Historic Windmill Center is different from any other museum you will ever visit and even the kids will love it.

The tour of the Canadian National Historic Windmill Center starts with the acreage surrounding the Etzikom Museum. Restored windmills and water pumps stand proudly retelling more than 200 years of wind power history. The tour continues inside the museum with several interactive displays that allow you to experience several different eras of Alberta’s history firsthand. The fossils, petroglyphs, and many other displays of period life including Indian artifacts and early pioneers are just a few of the things you can see and play with. From May to September, you can wander through the entire thing on your own or take a guided tour.

Once you are done there, drive over to Warner, Alberta and be sure to watch the beautiful scenery as you go! Old farmhouses dating back to the early 1900s, beautiful coulees, and delightful hills mark the entire trip. One coulee of particular interest is called Devil’s Coulee.

Originally discovered by a young local girl in 1987, the Devil’s Coulee Dinosaur Museum has rare Hadrosaur dinosaur nests, embryos, and a variety of other fossils. The tours take you through the excavation site and even teach you how to identify dinosaur fossils. The Heritage Gallery, found in the same location, has period history displays focusing on everything from the women in the early 1900s to the life of soldiers during WWII.

Last stop on the tour of southern Alberta is the quaint town of Cardston. This little town is literally filled with period buildings dating back to the start of the 1900s. One of these great buildings is the Cobblestone Manor, a beautiful Bed and Breakfast constructed from logs and river stones. Haven’t fallen in love with the place? Then ask about the heart-wrenching history behind the construction of the B&B.

The most interesting spot in this quiet little town is the Museum of Carriages. It was recognized by the government as one of the “Best Indoor Attractions in Canada” and with more than 250 examples of different non-motorized vehicles, it is certainly no surprise. On your way out of town, be sure to check out the Card Pioneer Home, which is almost the same as the day it was build more than 100 years ago.

The southeast corner of Alberta has something to offer everyone including the littlest of travelers. With so many different things to do and see, the memories gained from your vacation here are sure to stay with you for a lifetime.

For more information, visit Travel Alberta Canada or Alberta’s South Travel & Tourism.

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(This post now appears here: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/alberta/dinosaur-eggs-devils-coulee-log-cabins-alberta/)

Travel To The Land Of The Living Skies: Where The Past Is Present

Where The Past Is Present

©2008Angie Haggstrom

If you are traveling in Saskatchewan on the #1 highway, chances are you will notice the town of Maple Creek and the nearby Cypress Hills. With only 2500 residents, it looks like any other small town in Saskatchewan at first glance. If you happen to talk to any of the locals, however, they will tell you there is just something about the place that keeps calling you back.

Maple Creek has all of the basic businesses and amenities as well as some of the things often reserved for larger centers including a specialty kitchen store, a gourmet coffee shop, and a large sports area. Historic buildings built in the early 1900s are sprinkled throughout town. If you take a closer look, the town motto Where The Past Is Present seems to make sense.

The streets are a mixture of Wrangler jeans and business suits. It is not out of the ordinary to see spurs and cowboy hats either. In fact, when you drive through town, you may even have to wait on a horse and rider to cross the street.

The Star Cafe looks like a fine dining establishment in any city, but if you look a little closer, you will notice something unique. Cowboy boots and a light western theme mix pleasantly with the white tablecloths and wine glasses that grace the tables.

The local residents really do add to the ambiance of Maple Creek. Even if you have never been here before, everyone you pass will smile, wave, and say hello as if you are an old friend. Several people who have moved to Maple Creek recently discovered the little town while on their way to other vacation destinations in Canada. ‘Maple Creek just kept calling us back,’ they say.

For most, visiting Maple Creek is like being away on vacation and in your hometown at the same time. Even those who grew up ‘Where The Past Is Present‘ can’t stay away forever. Whether you are here for an hour, a year, or are simply vacationing from the comfort of your couch, welcome to Saskatchewan, Canada, and welcome home.

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(This post can now been found here: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/saskatchewan/land-living-skies-past-present/)