I just finished watching the debate between Canada’s political leaders. For those who don’t know, there’s a national election happening in Canada right now and the parties are promising this and that to get your vote.
The theme for the three opposition parties seems to be that the ruling Conservative government, if given a majority, would turn Canada into another United States. They make it sound like this is a really bad thing, and I’m sure many Canadians want to maintain their distinctness. However, this got me thinking. Why shouldn’t Canada be more like the United States? I came up with a few reasons.
Canadians Like Making Less Money
Let’s compare Vancouver to Seattle. Other than Vancouver being in Canada and Seattle being in the US, the two cities are very similar to each other. They have similar populations. The climate is pretty much the same – it rains just as much in both cities. Both cities lost their NBA team, and both have a very high tech community.
When it comes to making money, the average Vancouver household brings in $68,670 while families in Seattle make an average $79,137. Seattle is by no means the richest city in the US. That honor goes to Bethesda, MD, where the average family income is $172,541. The highest income earning city in Canada is in oil rich Calgary, Alberta. The average family income there is $91,570, which is good but pales in comparison to Bethesda.
Canadians Like To Pay More Taxes
Not only do Canadians enjoy making less money than their American counterpart, they like to pay more taxes as well so they can have even less money to take home. In Vancouver, the top income tax rate is 43.7% (federal and provincial) and kicks in at $128,801.
The top income tax rate in the United States is 35% but doesn’t kick in until you’re making more than $373,650 a year. Washington State (where Seattle is) has no state income tax so 35% is all you pay. At the $128K level, the rate is 28%. That sounds a lot better than 43.7% to me but hey, Canada doesn’t want to be like the USA.
Canadians Like To Pay More for Everything
So Canadians make less money and pay more taxes. Surely, the cost of living must be much cheaper, right? Guess again. Even though the Canadian dollar is worth more than the US dollar, everything is more expensive in Canada. An Apple iPad cost $499 in the US, $519 in Canada. Compare the prices at the Whole Foods in Vancouver with the Whole Foods in Seattle and you’ll see that some items cost up to twice as much in Vancouver.
Thinking of buying a nice sports car? A Porsche 911 Turbo starts at $159,400 in Canada but the same Turbo can be had in the US for $135,500. And then there’s the cost of putting gas in it. While Americans are complaining about gas price hitting almost $4 per gallon, it cost $1.34 per litre in Vancouver. That works out to $5.64USD per gallon.
If the cost of operating a high-end sports car doesn’t scare you, the cost of housing will. The average house in Seattle cost $362,000 or 4.57 years family income. In Vancouver, the average house cost $987,500 or 14.4 years family income.
Canadians Like To Have “Free” Medical
This is the thing that Canada likes to use to justify their lower income and higher cost. Their medical system is universal and free! This is only partly true.
The Canada Medical Services Plan (MSP) isn’t free. You do have to pay for it if your family makes over $30,000 a year. If you make less than $22K a year, then it’s free. There is premium assistance between $22,001 to $30,000. The monthly premium rates are $60.50 for one person, $109.00 for a family of two and $121.00 for a family of three or more.
MSP is universal in that every Canadian is covered by the plan. However, universal is also a code word for, “hurry up and wait!” Yes, MSP will pay for that MRI scan, if you’re willing to wait six months to a year. This is why you see so many Canadians going to the US for treatment but not a single American coming to Canada for treatment. Unless your case is considered life threatening, you will be waiting far longer than a patient in the US with private/company medical.
Chances are, private medical in the US may cost more than $121 a month (depends on the company you work for) but I’m pretty sure that will be more than made up for by the higher income, lower taxes and lower cost of everything.
Why shouldn’t Canada be more like the US? You tell me.
BTW – I live in Vancouver. 😛