My First Love Was a City: Victoria, British Columbia

I still won’t say I’m over Victoria. Like all first loves, Victoria will always know how to hurt me. When I went back to the West Coast this summer for vacation, I stayed with friends in Vancouver and purposefully avoided it. I still miss the trees and my friends and the life I had there. But I am becoming happy here. I have moved on from just making the best of things. Like the protagonists of a thousand books and films and ballads, I have grieved and I learned to love again.

Canadian Health Care Awesomeness: Is It As Awesome As It Seems?

We’re all jealous of the Canadian health care system, unless we’re Canadian ourselves, in which case we spend our time eating poutine and watching hockey and politely marveling at the idiocy of Americans. But is the universal, public, accessible, single-payer health care that folks north of the border enjoy REALLY as great as it seems? Jacobin investigates:

The two largest holes in Canada’s health care system are the lack of universal coverage for dental care and the inadequate defraying of optical and prescription drug costs. As of 2012, an estimated one in five Canadians — disproportionately women, the unemployed, and freelancers — did not have the supplementary private health insurance that foots the bill for these services.

Uh. 20% of Canadians might have to pay for some dental and vision out of pocket, and these are your biggest problems? Here is the world’s tiniest violin, and here is me smashing it with a hammer made out of solidified resentment.

Universal health care is not just being eroded via underfunding. The federal government has been unwilling to enforce the Canada Health Act, which makes funding contingent on meeting certain standards. The lax regulatory environment has led to a proliferation of private clinics across Canada and inequitable access to some medical services.

OK now we’re getting somewhere. Maybe. It’s still hard for me to get worked up over the kinks in what seems like, overall, still a vastly preferable system to the one we’re stuck with down here, but pain is relative. And it does suck that abortions are hard to come by on Prince Edward Island.

The Hardest $270 I’ve Ever Saved

Despite being a socialist utopia in many other ways, you still have to pay for prescriptions and dental care in Canada. Luckily, I was on my father’s insurance plan, but that luck was set to run out on my birthday.

Searching for a Dream Apartment But Finding Only Nightmares

Where have you lived, Zoe Daniels?

Where Do You Want To Live When You Retire

Canada is where Americans are retiring these days. Maybe it's the cheap drugs.

Let’s Argue About Prostitution

Sex work produces some unexpected fringe benefits. For instance, according to this article in Hazlitt about a proposed bill restricting classified ads for escorts in Canada, it supports print media at a time when little else will, and as well as other industries.

sex work ads contribute crucially to the health of print media. And the less secretive publishers are about this relationship, the better they seem to do: the Grid is dead, but NOW—despite a defiantly untrendy design—is holding strong. … There is no question that online advertising has transformed the sex industry, but in fact, ads for sexual services are far from endangered, and appear in print publications as diverse as the Toronto Sun and the New York Review of Books (which runs them alongside personals ads). …

Sex work supports economies beyond publishing. It’s likely that businesses in the hotel, transportation, and tourism spheres will be hurt by the bill, too. “The sex industry is huge, especially when you consider that it’s not just sex workers, but everyone involved with them—clients, drivers, porn consumers, sex bloggers… the list goes on and on,” says Carolyn, an agency escort in downtown Toronto (her name has been changed on request, to protect her anonymity). “Our clubs bring in tourists, our lived experiences sell books and magazines, and sex workers buy food and clothes and cars and houses just like everyone else. But we don’t talk about that. We’d rather have this illusion that sex workers are different from non-sex workers, and that what we do isn’t real work.”

“It’s hard to admit that sex work isn’t just happening in certain zones or neighbourhoods, and that any normal person you see around could be a sex worker,” she continues. “I think if people were to realize that, it would be much harder to criminalize and dismiss us.”

Canadian Middle Class Feels Bad for American Middle Class

As a followup to Meaghan’s post about the American man who traveled to Canada and was struck by the existence of a “vast and comfortable middle class,” the Upshot talked to some middle-class Canadians who said they had plenty to worry about but thought they were better off than Americans:

“When you have a family to raise and you are middle class, you are on a treadmill,” said Deborrah Mustachi, a 52-year-old educational assistant for the Catholic school board in Markham, a Toronto suburb. “It’s very difficult to save when you have to live for today.”

Yet, Ms. Mustachi added, “I think people in the U.S. seem to struggle more.”

Canadians have little doubt that they face less financial stress about medical costs than Americans. Many also credit their labor unions for the size of their paychecks; union membership rates are higher in Canada. Canadians also know that the American housing bubble and bust were more severe than their version.

“We got to keep our houses,” said Gregory Thomas, 39, an actor and house painter who lives with his wife and two young children in Toronto. “As an outsider, it seems like the aspirational section of the middle class — those who are constantly trying to get a little bit higher — they really got decimated in the States.”

And I can’t get over this kicker:

Or as Mr. Thomas said, Americans “may get more on their plate when they go to Denny’s, but they don’t have more when they go home.”

Burn.

Photo: Alex Indigo

The Cost of Getting Your Driver’s License in Canada

In September, I became the proud owner of an Ontario 'Class G' full driver's license. If you are not from Ontario, here are the three tests you must pass in order to get a full driver's license:

What I Learned About Renting While Living in Canada

When I moved halfway across the country to go to university at 17 it was my first time being away from my parents for more than a week. This was definitely not a problem; I had been focused on "getting out" for years. Unfortunately for me, my parents had no idea what they were doing, and neither did I. I've now lived in five different apartments of varying degrees of crappiness in three different Canadian cities with 10 different people. I would like to share with you some themes of my experience in the rental housing market, namely all the basic ways you can hopefully avoid similarly crappy experiences as much as possible.

Winnipeg, Manitoba: The Slurpee Capital of the World

Here's a delightful post from Priceonomics on the invention of the Slurpee. Who would have thought that Canadians were such huge consumers of flavored icy drinks? Canadian readers, is this true?