I was going to write a long emo piece about Canada and being Canadian and my relationship to being Canadian, but we’ve already had such dynamite identity stuff today, I just want to talk a little bit about how it’s easier to be a young creative person in Canada than it is here, for two distinct reasons:
1. Health Care: I know! So obvious, so pointless. Yes, health care makes things easier. But, NO, really, I have a cousin who is a singer-songwriter and a comedian and who puts up a musical about Sir John A. MacDonald every year, scraping together goodthinkful government funds and waitressing gigs and money from teaching guitar lessons, and is just this force of nature, and she can do this, she can actually do this thing because she doesn’t have to have a “real job” from which to get health insurance. She can still get pap smears and have that weird mole looked at (I’m sure she doesn’t have weird moles) and have the freedom to fall off things and break her arm, even if she’s paying her rent via nine different income sources. She may be struggling to keep the lights on like everyone else, but she has not had to decide she needs to “get serious” because of the spectre of medical bankruptcy. And her friends in the artsy community are the same way. They’re funny and talented and good and civic-minded and able to hustle, because this one thing is off their plate. And Canada spends a lot less per head on health care than the United States does. IT’S COMPLICATED, I’m not an idiot. I get it.
2. Paid Maternity Leave: You know what? I’ve lived here for twelve years now, and I like it, and I like the United States, and Canada is not perfect, and can be ridiculous, but like ALL THE OTHER PLACES, if you have a baby, you get paid maternity leave. A lot of it. Instead of six or twelve weeks unpaid leave, you and your partner can cobble together about a YEAR, and your company will usually top up what the goverment gives you. Now, obviously, that’s gonna be better. But that’s not even why I’m mentioning it, I’m mentioning it because it results in a ton of long-ish term temp jobs for people who want to step in for women (or men) who are taking the aforementioned parental leave. When I go home, I say “what’s Susie up to?” and will frequently hear: “oh, she’s on a seven month contract for someone’s mat leave.” That’s a good deal for Susie.
That’s all. That’s all I really want to say about that today. That Canada makes it easier to be a young person trying to figure things out.
I miss it a lot.
Nicole is an Editor of The Toast.