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8 Myths About Canada That Foreigners Get Wrong

by Kimberley Jeane Feb 25, 2016

Myth #1: In Canada, healthcare is free

Canadians may not receive medical bills every time they go to the doctor or to the hospital, but that does not mean that healthcare is free. The public healthcare system in Canada is made up of several socialized health insurance plans that provide coverage for medical services including physician care and hospital services.

But ironically, “free healthcare” comes with a price. Canadians pay off the “free” medical services through taxes. A family of four can expect to contribute about $11,700 per year in taxes for public health insurance, and this amount grows every year. Even Canada’s poorest families pay about $475 per year.

Also, Canada’s health insurance only covers basic health care; things like prescription drugs and long-term health care are not covered. Most Canadians pay for these through employment insurance plans or through their income taxes.

Myth #2: Nothing historically relevant has come from Canada

Among Canada’s greatest historical achievements:
-It’s credited as being the birth country of several sports like hockey (obviously!), lacrosse, and basketball. We also invented instant replay during the 1955 broadcasts of the Hockey Night In Canada playoffs.
-Crispy Crunch and Smarties candies are from Canada
-The cardiac pacemaker and insulin shots for diabetics were all invented by Canadian medical professionals.
-Other things you didn’t know we invented: IMAX, the garbage bag, peanut butter, Trivial Pursuit, and the telephone.

Myth #3: Everyone in Canada speaks French

While there are French-speaking communities in many of the provinces, only 22% of Canadians consider French as their first language. These native French speakers are mostly from Quebec, where 95% of the population speaks French, either as a first or second language. Outside of this area, the language is fare more rare.

Myth #4: Most Canadians live in the woods

Forests make up 42% of the Canada. However, 81% of Canadians live in cities. Toronto is the most highly populated city, with 2,600,000 inhabitants; Montreal and Calgary follow.

Myth #5: Some Canadians live in igloos

Igloos were not used by Canadians. They were used by the Eskimos or Inuits who lived in the Arctic Circle regions of Canada, Alaska, Greenland and Russia. Not many of them actually “lived” in igloos though. Until the mid-1900s, nomadic Inuits used igloos as temporary shelters for when they set out on long hunting trips, or as emergency shelters during storms.

Today, the Inuit live in houses and have phones, computers and TVs just like everyone else. They may still put up igloos while they temporarily go fishing or hunting, but then they return to their houses.

Myth #6: Canada is always white/cold/icy

While it snows in every Canadian province and territory, winter in Canada is not as indefinite as it seems to be. Winter usually begins in December and ends in March. During the coldest months (January-February), temperatures dip down to an average of -10°C (14°F) and -30°C (-22°F), depending on the area. The snow usually starts to melt in March or April. In summer, the warmest months (June-August) are usually very sunny and humid. Temperatures hit an average high of 20°C (68°F) to 35°C (95°F). The humidity can actually make summer in Canada unbearably hot; the weather in the Caribbean is sometimes more comfortable!

Myth #7: You can see beavers and moose almost everywhere in Canada

Most Canadians go their whole lives without ever seeing a beaver or moose aside from at the zoo or in a public park. While Canadian beavers built the largest beaver dam in the world (850m long!) in Canada and moose are prevalent in remote forests, it is more common to see squirrels, raccoons, and the occasional hare in the wild.

To spot a moose or beaver in Canada, your best bet is to drive through one of the national parks.

Myth #8: There is only one highway in all of Canada

There is only one highway that unites all of Canada. The Trans-Canada Highway runs from one end of Canada to the other, through the 10 provinces, but each province and territory has their own set of highways.

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