Move to Canada?

  1. Hello, I am a nurse in the USa and saw this article and thought you may find it interesting.
    My fellow Americans: Want a health tip? Move to Canada.

    An impressive array of comparative data shows that Canadians live
    longer and healthier lives than we do. What's more, they pay roughly half as
    much per capita as we do -- $2,163 versus $4,887 in 2001 -- for the

    Exactly why Canadians fare better is the subject of considerable
    academic debate. Some policy wonks say it's Canada's single-payer, universal
    health coverage system. Others point to Canadians' different ethnic
    mix. Some think it's because they use fewer illegal drugs and shoot each
    other less with guns, though they do smoke and drink with gusto.

    Still others think Canadians are healthier because their medical system
    is tilted more toward primary-care doctors and less toward specialists.
    And some believe it's something more fundamental -- a smaller gap
    between rich and poor.

    Perhaps it's all of the above. But there is no arguing the basics.

    "By all measures, Canadians' health is better," said Dr. Barbara
    Starfield, a university distinguished professor at Johns Hopkins Medical
    Institutions. Canadians "do better on a whole variety of health outcomes,"
    she said, "including life expectancy at various ages -- 1, 15, 20, 45,
    65, 80, you name it."

    According to a World Health Organization report published last year,
    life expectancy at birth in Canada is 79.8 years versus 77.3 in the
    United States (Japan's is 81.9.). Canada now ranks fifth in life expectancy
    at birth (after Japan, Sweden, Hong Kong and Iceland), while the United
    States ranks 26th, according to the United Nations Human Development

    "There isn't a single measure in which the US excels in the health
    arena," said Dr. Stephen Bezruchka, a senior lecturer in the School of
    Public Health at the University of Washington in Seattle. "We spend half of
    the world's health care bill and we are less healthy than all the other
    rich countries.

    "Fifty-five years ago, we were one of the healthiest countries in the
    world. What changed? We have increased the gap between rich and poor.
    Nothing determines the health of a population [more] than the gap between
    rich and poor."

    Infant-mortality rates also show striking differences between the
    United States and Canada, according to Dr. Clyde Hertzman, associate
    director of the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research at the
    University of British Columbia in Vancouver. To counter the argument that
    racial differences play a major role, Hertzman compared infant mortality for
    all Canadians with that for white Americans between 1970 and 1998. The
    white US infant mortality rate was roughly six deaths per 1,000 babies,
    compared to slightly more than five for Canadians.

    Maternal mortality shows a substantial gap as well. According to data
    published last year by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
    Development, an international think-tank, there were 3.4 maternal deaths
    for every 100,000 births among Canadians compared to a 9.8 among all

    And more than half of Canadians with severe mental disorders received
    treatment, compared to little more than a third of Americans, according
    to the May-June 2003 issue of Health Affairs.

    Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, an associate professor at Harvard Medical
    School, general internist at Cambridge Hospital and staunch advocate of a
    single-payer system, said she believes "the summary of the evidence has
    to be that national health insurance has improved the health of
    Canadians and is responsible for some of the longer life expectancy."

    On the other hand, there are some causes of death that wouldn't be much
    affected by having the government pick up the health care tab -- like
    homicide. And the United States, Bezruckha said, has "the highest
    homicide rate of all the rich countries."

    "Other things might be differences in seat-belt usage," said Robert
    Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis at the
    Harvard School of Public Health. "We are also disproportionate consumers of
    illegal drugs, much more than Canada, so it's cultural. The health of
    Americans would be better if we had universal health care, but there are
    some things that a single-payer system wouldn't fix, but which would
    leave one country looking healthier in the statistics." In some respects,
    the health care system is "the tail on the dog," said Dr. Arnie
    Epstein, chairman of the department of health policy and medicine at the
    Harvard School of Public Health. "It's other aspects of the social fabric of
    different countries that seem to have a major impact on how long people

    Like ethnicity. In the United States, African-Americans and Latinos
    "face problems of housing, stress and low income which have nothing to do
    with a single-payer system," Blendon said. Canada has a large number of
    Asian immigrants, he said, but they, like Asian immigrants in the
    United States, tend to do well on health care measures.

    The bottom line is that Canada is doing something right, even if "the
    reasons are not totally understood," said Kominski of UCLA.

    So, should we all move to Canada? Probably. But it's just too cold.

    Judy Foreman is a freelance columnist who can be contacted at
    Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.
  2. Visit fawnsternurse profile page

    About fawnsternurse

    Joined: Jun '03; Posts: 227; Likes: 54
    R.N.; from GA , US
    Specialty: 24 year(s) of experience in psych, medical, drug rehab


  3. by   Loppear
    Well ya'll come on up here! We have a nursing shortage as well, more nurses will help us out. And its not really any colder than living in North Dakota.........or Montana........any of your northern'd get used to it!!!!!!!
  4. by   fergus51
    When it comes to maternal-newborn care, I wonder if the differences have to do with prenatal care? This is just my personal observation, but I regularly had patients in the US who hadn't received prenatal care, wheras in Canada that is really rare.
  5. by   lalaxton
    It may be colder up here but we sure know how to have fun in the snow!
  6. by   Teachchildren123
    Thank you fawnsternurse for your very professional comments!
    I know that it was written a while ago but is still of interest!
    Your fellow Canadian living in Buffalo!
  7. by   control
    Quote from Loppear
    Well ya'll come on up here! We have a nursing shortage as well, more nurses will help us out. And its not really any colder than living in North Dakota.........or Montana........any of your northern'd get used to it!!!!!!!
    Really trying to!
  8. by   acadia
    I am working on it, I cannot wait to be there. I ant to live and work in Newfoundland. We are just starting the process. did I say I can not wait, oh yeah. I LOVE Newfoundland!!!!!!!!!!!! Acadia RN husband is ready to go as well.
  9. by   jjennyrn
    hey there acadia
    do you have any advice or info on the process?? I am an RN (British) but have lived and worked in USA all my life. NICU, L&D etc. Want to move to Vancouver BC.
    Any help would be valued!!
  10. by   acadia
    Hi jjennyrn,
    What we have been doing is going to the government site. It has had a great deal of information to read through. Newfoundland has a nice site.We really havn`t gotten too far along, it is slow going and of course, I wish we were there yesterday We did just receive the Canadian application for nursing license. So, you might try the gov. site for BC (another beautiful Province!!!) I have not been there since the 70`s, so I am sure much has changed.cadia
  11. by   romansten9
    Very interesting! I agree that as a nation our health could be much better. But as individuals, we can each choose to be as healthy as can be and live wherever we want. For example, I eat right, exercise and watch what chemicals I put into my body through my skin, mouth, cleaning chemicals and furnishings in my home, etc. etc. Moving would not increase my health. As Americans we simply have to imitate what others are doing right, and stay put.

    I think I have a unique perspective on the 2 countries. I was born in Canada, 1/2 of my family lives there, 1/2 lives in the US. I have never lived there and have no desire to. I travel there all the time to visit. Growing up, I would "argue" with my cousins about which is better! It was a fun game, but of course they both have their perks. They couldn"t argue with the fact that almost everything in Canada comes from the US (I lovingly call them US wanna bees- or clones of our country)

    Besides great people, 2 things comes to mind about Canada, they have beautiful mountains, every bit as nice as our Rockies, and they have great wilderness & wide open spaces.

    But there is no way I would give up ten thousand great things about America (including beatiful warm beaches--warm enough to actually swim in the ocean!)

    As for healthcare, I like the American system. If I'm healthy I'm not forced to pay for something I'm not using. I have freedom to choose where I go for healthcare, and competition gives us the greatest care on the face of the earth.

    In summary, there is a lot more to life than living a couple more years. When I get old I will probably have sores and pains and I will be longing to be with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in paradise!
  12. by   acadia
    romansten9, I agree you had the best opportunity to look a both sides considering your situation. I am curious, given your nursing area of interest and experience, would you be able to do the same in CA? What would be the differences?. Yes we can all make personal choices for better health, and what we expose ouselves too. Some healthy choices are where you might live as well. Here in NE, winter is cold, snowy; it sounds like you may be in warmer climes, mentioning beaches and swimming. It would not be the extra couple of yrs. I may or may not live, but yet to live (hopefully after all this paperwork and waiting) and work in a place of such serenity and beauty, would be healthy emotionally, not to mention B/P, as well. We both being RN`s, would be able to bring our skills, and experiences to their workforce, Newfoundland facing a shortage of nurses as well. You mention health-care, here I am being told by the insurance company, what meds I may or may not take. Having an MD order for something, then being told by a non-medical, or sometimes RN, that we do not need this or that tx, surgery, using I/we as there are many family and friends also in the same plight. Seems no easy answer to health care issues.
    We both want that quiet lifestyle of close friends, and community. This made all the better by the stunning beautiful atomsphere.
    I don`t mean to bombard you with questions, but I am curious, I hope you do not mind. Acadia If you want it to be PM that is fine.