Canadians have been known to be a generous, peace-loving and yet fiercely protective people, and our reputation for free healthcare is renown–not in the least of all places, The United States of America. Oh, they know this. They even have a joke or two about it, such as, “Why did the chicken cross the road? Because in Canada, they fix you up for free!” But, one thing we Canadians have long known is that, in America, they don’t return the favour.
Canadians, or any tourist to the States for that matter, must pay a premium to be treated for hospital stays, procedures, medications, medical equipment, birthing, maternity care, convalescence, respite, interment, cremation, etc. If Americans were honest, they’d tell you all that before they lure you to Anaheim. But then, we Canadians do our homework. We have to. And often times we just don’t go south of the 49th Parallel. Not all the trickery in American advertising could lure me there. Nada. Zippo. Keeping on my side of the soil (or pretend wall).
I knew an American tourist who spent a lengthy hospital stay here in my hometown, all at no charge to him, receiving treatment and much compassion until his recovery some three months later. He is a kind man. He wanted to repay that Canadian hospital for his stay, so much so that he was willing to mortgage his house. The good Nurses, Doctors and Administration of that Canadian hospital kindly ignored him, and sent him home once he was fit again. Up until a recent few years, he was still recounting the story, and sending me some of his poetry chapbooks as a donation (they were by then considered valuable) to the hospital that had treated him. I had the privilege to donate them on his behalf. Initially, the staff was worried there was money inside the box. I reassured them by opening the box and taking out the contents sealed in a clear plastic bag. They were satisfied and passed the books along to the staff librarian. This man is a true gentleman. I was pleased to have made his acquaintance.
Then, you have the disparity. Why on earth are we offering tourists from a largely ungrateful and non-reciprocating country free healthcare at Canadian taxpayers’ expense? Healthcare should be free to people of the country, but not simply people inside the country. That means all citizens, First Nations’ Peoples, landed immigrants, refugees, and students and workers on visas, should receive free healthcare. That is the generosity we should stand up for. I’m sorry, but with the hypocritical policies that govern our two neighbourly countries, Americans just aren’t on that list qualifying for freebies. If Americans are rich enough to travel North of the 49th Parallel, they should consider healthcare insurance paid by their own companies in The States. I mean, like, we have to mortgage not just the house, but the boat and cottage as well, in order to pay for an unexpected hospital stay in The States. Just one night in a Canadian hospital costs $1,000 CAD from taxpayers’ coffers. 10 nights is $10,000. With the supposed state-of-the-art treatment in many American hospitals, the price is at least 50% more, if you’re lucky. You get the picture.
It is only fair. We are not here to provide free resources like we’re some 51st reap-us state. This, too, is a Canadian value. ~V.
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