As Canadians, we are given a front row seat to observe America. Given our geographical locations, both countries share numerous similarities and, ultimately, we are more alike than not – but Canadians still remain very different!
The driver of the Canadian economy is Canada’s rich and abundant supply of natural resources. Canada’s trade agreements with the USA make our partners to the south our strongest ally. Canada’s population is nearly 10% that of the USA, so Canada’s natural resources are very attractive to a thriving American population. With this in mind, many of our freedoms or the quality of life as we know it in Canada are based on this relationship with the USA. Combined with our geographical proximity, access to American media, and reciprocated measures to protect national security, Canada’s position in the global arena is truly shaped by our relationship to America.
2017 marks the sesquicentennial anniversary of Canadian Confederation. Simply said, Happy 150th Birthday Canada! As a contrast to the American media frenzy that is constantly covering President Donald Trump, our team at Venture Cover Magazine is inspired to enlighten our readers with the undeniable differences between Canadians and Americans:
CULTURAL MOSAIC CANADA VS.MELTING POT AMERICA
The fundamental difference between Canada and the United States of America is social identity. According to the Government of Canada: “Canadian multiculturalism is fundamental to our belief that all citizens are equal …the Canadian experience has shown that multiculturalism encourages racial and ethnic harmony and cross-cultural understanding.”
In comparison, the United States of America is founded on the American Dream, that is, the ideal that every American can work hard and build personal wealth and success through equal opportunity. Moreover, this extends to a commonly used social identity of the American Melting Pot, which is a metaphor used to depict how, in America, people with different cultural backgrounds are assimilated as one – you are an American first and foremost.
There is no doubt that Canada and America both embrace immigrants and those who are determined to provide a better life for themselves and their families; nevertheless, how one views or identifies with their country is significantly different. This perception also extends to how other countries view Canadians and Americans. Backpackers travelling through Europe will often tell you that being Canadian means receiving preferential treatment due to Canada’s positive reputation for peacekeeping, whereas negative stereotypes abound of obnoxious Americans who exude arrogance solely because they are a product of their society. Certainly not all Americans fit this stereotype, yet American patriotism and culture is not always welcomed when travelling abroad, especially with a history of America being the bully with a massive military.
A DIVIDED NATION According to Worldometers 2016 census, the United States of America’s population was 324,118,787. By comparison, Canada’s population stands at 36,286,378. Simply put, the Canadian population is a mere fraction of the American population (8.9%). In 2016, Statistics Canada noted its highest population ever with 36 million, but that’s still about three million people fewer than the entire state of California
With more people comes more complexity. So, as a Canadians watching the American news or the recent American presidential election and the various reactions to policies of health care, gun control, immigration, infrastructure, education, crime rates, abortion, environmental awareness, banking corruption, and identity politics, there is no doubt that the USA is an enormously divided nation. This isn’t to suggest that Canada doesn’t have its share of problems; rather, our problems are different and easier to manage based on our smaller population and less partisan government processes.
LIFESTYLE AND QUALITY OF LIFE
Maclean’s Magazine (June 28, 2013) highlighted several benefits of being Canadian over American. Among the most striking of these were found in Canada’s Quality of Life indexes. Compared to Americans, Canadians outperform in life expectancy, level of life satisfaction, universal elementary school testing, obesity rates, lower divorce rates, less addiction to alcohol, lower incarceration, lower crime rates, better work life balance and, of course, Canadians are more apologetic!
BANKING, EDUCATION, AND HEALTH CARE
Canada has approximately six national banks with regulations that are influenced by the American banking system; however, Canadian regulations are significantly more restricted. Therefore, Canadian banks do not feel the impact of large financial downfalls in the same manner as domestic American banks. According to the FDIC, America had 6800 commercially insured bank institutions in 2014. With different consumers, different international investment strategies, and different views on regulation, both have their challenges but operate on a much different level of risk tolerance.
The quality of education in both Canada and USA is comparable. There are top tier universities that boast strong research, technology, resources, and instruction in the USA but that same experience can be obtained in some of Canada’s top schools. However, the delivery of these programs demonstrates a major difference in Canada’s government-subsidized schooling versus the cost for private universities. This also includes how, at American colleges and universities, costs increase for international students and out-of-state students. For average students, tuition is significantly cheaper for Canadian students than American students. Thus, American students graduate with significantly more debt (with similar challenges of job availability in both countries). While Canada doesn’t offer the same amount of choice in universities and colleges available to students, this is often neutralized by the options for government financial assistance in comparison to American students.
Healthcare is often viewed as one of the more prominent differences between Canada and the USA. Most Americans have no idea what universal health care even is, while Canada’s system clearly works (but not perfectly). Canadians have no idea how the U.S. system operates (because most Americans don’t either) and typically, what Americans and Canadians know about healthcare comes from media and political spheres. There is miseducation simply because it is complicated and expensive any way you look at it.
Trudy Lieberman, a former president of the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ), is a contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review and described the following:
“Although the Affordable Care Act calls for more people to have health insurance by offering subsidies and mandating all Americans have it or face penalties, the concept of universality is still a far distant goal. The Canada Health Act, on the other hand, calls for universality – all residents must be covered by the public insurance plan run by their province on uniform terms and conditions. They have coverage wherever they are treated in the country, and there’s none of this stuff about limiting the doctors and hospitals that patients can use as a condition of getting full benefits. In Canada, there are no financial barriers to care at the point of service as there are and will continue to be in the U.S.”
LANGUAGE AND GOVERNANCE
Canada and United States are both democracies, yet the way each country maintains its government control is drastically different. Canada is a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth as an acting head of state with limited influence, while the USA is a constitutional republic with the baseline of decisions based solely on the Constitution. This gives political power to the citizen and their right to elect state and federal representatives to make decisions. Beyond governance, Canada recognizes English and French as official national languages, whereas the USA has a single national language in English.
Canadian and American economies are based on the free market, yet how each country came to develop their strategies of government is reflected in their historical roots. Moving forward, most critics can agree that government must adapt to the changing world otherwise our global positions will fall to those governments who can embrace change.
In summary, we Canadians have distinct differences from our southern neighbours. Yet, aside from these differences, both countries are inter-dependent on each other in order to ensure that the lifestyle and opportunities each wants for their citizens continue to exist. Canadians will continue to project a proud, appealing identity in the global community. However, let us keep in mind that the USA and their military presence, media, geographical position, economic ties, and long-standing peace with Canada directly influences Canadians’ ability to continuously showcase our exceptional diversity.