Disadvantages of being Canadian

Let me just the say that what I’m going to say in this post doesn’t by any means imply that I hate Canada in any way, only that I’m dissatisfied with living here. Alot of comparisons are obviously going to be made relative to our American neighbors. I’ve lived in Canada since I was 4, and I must say that for all its strengths there are just some things I can’t stand about Canada:

1) High prices/taxes

We have to pay higher prices on everything, this isn’t including tax yet, but everything from cars to houses we pay much more than Americans do on the same items. Alot of items we can’t even get here in Canada, so I have to look on ebay.com, not .ca to find them only to see either that the shipping cost to Canada is outrageous (Free Shipping to Continental US as usual) or “We only ship to 48 contiguous states”. Yes not only do Americans pay less – alot of offers and opportunities aren’t even available to us (take Hulu as an example).

So we pay more for items in the first place (+ shipping + handling + duties), AND we have to pay higher taxes. Some states in the US (NJ, OR, etc) don’t even have state taxes. What do we get here? A freaking 13% (soon to be higher) tax on everything. That’s ON TOP of the high prices that we pay to begin with. This accounts for the high gas prices ($4/gallon is pretty common here in Toronto), insurance ($3000/yr is common for students) and everything else. Canadians must be rich to afford living here.

2) Government is corrupt and doesn’t care about Canadians / Canadians don’t give a shit

Well this ties in with my first point. The Canadian government is corrupt as hell. That’s why I never vote for any of them, because the new boss is the same as the old boss. So we pay high taxes. Let’s see what the government has done for us recently:

-Increase taxes next year: Thats right, HST is coming next year, because McGuinty decided that raising taxes during a recession is a great idea, and Provincial government approved it.

-Increase tuition next year: Thats right, because McGuinty decided that students aren’t suffering enough and need to pay more for substandard education (you’ll see why).

-Increase TTC fees next year: That’s right, as if we weren’t paying high enough fees for that crappy TTC service, they decided to increase the metropass and fare prices.

You’d think that all these high increases would go to something useful. But I can say from personal experience, the government isn’t making good use of our taxpayer dollars. People say that universal healthcare in Canada is good; I can say that the quality is crap. A while ago, I was going in for treatment for a bump on my skin that I didn’t know what it was; not only did I have to wait long lines for the treatment, but I had to go 3 doctors because none of them knew what it was. First doctor prescribed me some cream: turns out it didn’t work. Next 2 doctors I told them what didn’t work; they gave me the same cream. I don’t think any of them are competent nor do they care about their patients at all. So is quality of healthcare good? no.

Next, construction of roads. It’s nice to have roads renovated and repaved, but taking 3+ years of road construction is ridiculous My street, St Clair West, has been under construction ever since I got to Toronto. It’s been getting worse and worse. Recently, looks like every major road is under construction, and from what I can see there hasn’t been any changes. It took me 45 minutes to get through the traffic on my street. That’s unacceptable. They constantly cut down three lanes to one to increase traffic and here’s a plan sure to get you pissed: they block off all other roads leading to the street you want to get to only leaving one path. So obviously all the cars is on that one path to get through and you wait a long ass time to get somewhere you could’ve walked to in 10 minutes.
So are our taxpayer dollars being spite wisely on road construction? nope.

Another peeve I have is that for all this crappy treatment we receive from the government, Canadians don’t seem to care. As far as I know, the government can keep increasing prices / taxes and Canadians won’t give a shit. Why? Our neighbours in the south have been receiving tax cuts for the past 8 years and we’ve been receiving tax hikes and you don’t feel the least bit outraged at that discrepancy? Sure, I see around UofT demonstrations for tuition freezes and everything, but do they actually work? My bet is no. You can march all you want, the government doesn’t care and neither do other Canadians – we are all happy taking our price hikes up the ass from the government. I read in the paper recently how the 407 highway or the company that owns the toll road, charged many Canadians for using the road – even if their car has been in the garage for the past 8 years, or the license holder has expired. I think I was most surprised about the line that said “Many Canadians gave up and paid the fees anyway”. Are you kidding me? Can you not sue the 407 highway for unnecessary charges? Why would you pay for something that you never incurred? I don’t understand the mentality – the lack of ‘fight’ that Canadians have.

3) Unions are too powerful

The city union workers are too powerful and this is again, something you wouldn’t see in the US. Let me tell you something – when your job is to provide a public service to the Canadian people, you are NOT allowed to go on strike. Hear me? You get paid a high wage to driving your bus or taking out garbage, and you are NOT allowed to go on strike – or shouldn’t be anyways. Public services like transportation, education, etc are provided to Canadians as a part the contract of living in Canada – these services should always be provided. Those points I spoke of above – those outrageous fees – we pay those because we expect to receive service and these services are so essential that their workers should be banned from going on strike. Thank god I’m not from York University – if I was a student there and I lost a semester of my money and time because of some workers that went on strike – I would be out of this country for good. Why doesn’t the government do anything about that? These are essential services that you provide to the Canadian people – make sure that these ‘Union’ workers do their job and are banned from going on strike.

4) Housing prices are outrageous

I may be speaking particularly about Toronto – but the housing prices here are outrageous and unsustainable. Do you know why?

-Because no Canadian (oh wait I forgot Canadians love high prices) are willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars more to live in Toronto when they can live in the GTA for much much less and take a 30 min longer commute.

-Toronto’s housing prices do not reflect the city. Is this Manhatten? No. Beverly Hills? No. What makes Toronto so special? There’s nothing of value I see in these homes and that’s why I think it’s not sustainable and it’s due to a housing bubble rather than common sense.

-Toronto’s population growth is low. Therefore sometime in the future, demand will level off and prices will come down. Common sense that some people *my parents* can’t seem to see.

-You can purchase a similar condo or home south of the 49th parallel for 1/4th the price or 1/8th the price or much much less (see this book for how you can do that). No sane Canadian (but then again we love paying high prices) would want to stay here when they can purchase a similar home in NY, FL, CA, etc for much cheaper. At least those Chinese investors are thinking big – and buying up all that valuable real estate for entrepreneurship.

5) Weather sucks

Well yeah. I’ve never seen such unpredictable weather in my life. In one day you could be driving through rain, sunshine AND snow. It’s really annoying to have heavy drizzle for 30 secs then bright sunshine the next. I mean, I know the Irony because I work for Environment Canada, but cmon this weather is just ridiculous…I hate it and it gets worse and worse as you go north. Maybe it’s just East Coast (which I’m also tired of). West Coast sunshine and drizzle is where it’s at…

So in short, that’s why I’m not proud of being Canadian – you can tell from this post that I’m itching to move south soon and I am planning too after I graduate – but I was put in this situation because of my parents, not myself. My intuition has often been good about these things and I’m not going to start doubting myself now. And I’m really sick of the corruptness of the government and inaction of Canadians to stop these things from happening. Whatever happened to free thought? We’re being good socialists and letting the government get the best of us here.