What they get right.
So, I've been letting Chris do a lot of the heavy lifting on the blog lately. Partly because I'm usually pretty tired when I get home from work, and partly because my days were feeling so repetitive that I wasn't sure I had much interesting to talk about. Well, as of Friday of last week, I'm a free woman. I quit the job at the cafe. Not because things were bad or anything or that I couldn't handle it, but because I figured it was time to move on. Chris and I haven't really decided what our next steps are going to be, or even how long we'll stay here, but in the meantime, I wanted to have some time to enjoy the city. I started working fairly quickly after we moved here, so my free time for exploration was limited to weekends when i had enough energy to venture out. And when you spend 8 hours a day on your feet, the energy isn't always there. So, taking the summer off. And I promise to do better about sharing how I fill my time.
Anyway, we've done a lot of entries on this blog about the differences between here and the states. While I'm not sure that's always interesting for people to read, it's definitely something that comes up a lot in my conversations with Chris. And I think we've actually come off somewhat negative about some of the differences we've experienced-- "their Chinese food sucks", "the people are annoyingly oblivious", etc. But this entry is about the stuff they get right. And there are plenty of them.
I'm not gonna bother going into detail on the health care system here. Suffice is to say, it's free. Or rather, your taxes pay for it. Why is this great? Well, besides the obvious reasons about never being scared to go to the doctor because of the cost or not paying premiums for a policy you can't actually use because of your exorbitant deductibles, it gives you an amazing amount of freedom. Unemployed? No problem. You'll still be okay if you get sick. Hate your job and want to go elsewhere but worried about having a gap in insurance coverage or having to pay the high cost of COBRA insurance? Not a thing here. You can work anywhere, for any amount of time, at any salary level, and know that you'll be okay if you get sick. While there are definitely jobs that offer health coverage above what the government provides, you never have to worry about how you're going to afford your insulin. But let's move on to some of the little stuff that Quebec gets right (and also some of the big stuff).
Canada Post. That's the postal service here. Every drugstore has a Canada Post office in it. And there are drugstores about every 3 blocks. Why is this great? Well, first you don't have to try to find the few and far between post offices so you can mail a package or buy stamps. They're everywhere. But even better, they are open the same hours and days as the drugstore. Need to mail something on Sunday? No problem. Want to ship a package after work? They're open. Even on holidays, you can go to Canada Post. Unlike USPS who seems to be open about 3 hours a day and closes for dumb reasons like Arbor Day, Canada Post doesn't seem specifically designed to inconvenience you.
PayWave. Basically, PayWave means that when you want to buy something, you tap your credit or debit card on the card reader and it magically processes your payment. No inserting your card into those machines and waiting for what feels like 10 minutes for it to beep at you about not removing your card before then yelling you to remove your card immediately. There's been lots of talk about PayWave eventually getting to the states, but it's everywhere here and it's awesome.
Interac. Interac is the debit banking system here that links all banks so you can easily transfer money from bank to bank for free. No need for Venmo or Paypal or any of the services that charge fees or percentages. Have a bank account here? Cool, then just transfer money from you account to someone else's account in 10 minutes from your phone. All you need is their email address and it's completely secure. it makes you feel way better about doing Craigslist transactions when you don't have to show up with a pocket full of cash.
Free museum days. In Quebec, the government invested about $5 million so that people can visit various museums for free on the first Sunday of every month in hopes of making the art and education more accessible to everyone.
Maternity/Parental Leave. The maternity leave system here varies from province to province, but the short of it is that the government allows a mother to take approximately a year off (50 weeks) at 55% of her salary. If she wants another 6 months after that, she'll get 33% of her salary for that period of time. And her partner can get 1-2 months off as well. In Quebec, the benefits are even higher (70% of salary), and covers adoption as well. It's almost like they want women to be able to have children without destroying their careers. Even crazier, Quebec actually gives parents money when they have a baby, and give an annual allowance to assist with paying for childcare.
(And look, I get that these programs are paid for with tax dollars, and the tax rate is higher here for sure-- even the sales tax is eye-popping. But the reality is, when you don't have some of these expenses, you can afford to take home a little less. And it hasn't turned the country into Venezuela. Ok, I'll get off my soapbox now.)