Friday, October 18, 2013

Culture Clash

Hubby:  You haven't posted to your blog in a while.

Me: Nope.

Hubby:  How come?

Me:  No time.

Hubby:  Well you have time today.

Didn't happen.  This life in the new "normal."  My husband complains about lack of sleep in hotel rooms so he can get up and dig rocks the next morning.  I don't sleep because my children refuse to sleep for a solid hour after bed time and then wake up four time a night, at least.  Needless to say, I'm a bit annoyed that he thinks I have the time or energy to keep up with the blog all that much.

Last week was Canadian Thanksgiving.  I arrived the Friday before at the local rec center for play group.  I've sorta made friends with a lady who does in-home child care.  She takes the kids she watches there as does many of the women I meet.  Very few are stay-at-home moms.  She suggested LLL as a good resource to meeting more SAHMs.

Me:  Wow.  There's a lot of people here.

Her:  Yep, it's hockey.

Me:  Really?  Holiday I guess.

Her:  Oh, no.  Hockey is a big thing around here.  It'll be like this all season.  Tournaments, eh.  (Sidenote:  Yes, they say 'eh' in Canada a lot.)  People spend a lot of money to be on these leagues. 

Me:  *puzzled* In the States that wouldn't fly.  Your boss wouldn't let you go play hockey.  You'd be fired.

Her:  *shrugs shoulder*

Me:  But I guess that's the difference between Canada in the States.  We don't have the same type of leave.

Her:  Nope.  Not even Mat leave.  (Mat is short for Maternity Leave)

To help dissect this conversation a bit.  In Canada you get more vacation time.  People are sometimes traveling in a foreign country for three weeks at a time. 

They also are known to during the summer months work their hours four days a week and then leave early on Fridays to have a large weekend.  And they can get away with it.  The hours that things are open aren't as long as the US.  I've noted only one 24 hour store.  And it's McDonalds.  Of course this is just in London.  I'm not sure about elsewhere. 

As for Mat leave (that's what they call it), it's much much better than the US.  It's paid and longer.  I love how one US commenter said that they didn't want to change US mat leave because they didn't want to "fund someone else's lifestyle choice"  clearly this childless person thinks we can sustain a healthy workforce by making women consider having children versus eating.  Or worse their psychological health over not being given sufficient time to bond with their children.  In Canada they have a better perspective on it. 

Although in London, ON they recently changed Pre-K to full day five day a week because "parents wanted it."  One child care provider said with a note of disgust that they wanted free child care.  Well, I suppose someone has to watch the kids while they go play hockey.  I'm not saying Americans are better either.  Because we certainly are not.  Low income families prefer to have free everything too.  Free childcare.  Free food.  Free housing.  And never actively try to find a job or attend school or learn to money manage better.  I wish this was a stereotype, but I've know a few cases.

But the difference if you'll note, is that Americans also work harder than most industrialized nations.  My husband is not alone in working over holidays.  Nor is it unusual for hourly earners to work off the clock.  Meaning they choose to work without being paid just to get the work done.  Or unusual for your job to expect you to work over time as in the case of some of husband's relatives.  I think my friend's head my explode if I told her that the American Dream comes at such a high cost.  American's have hobbies, but not like Canadians do.  We work too much.

The other economic note is that Canada produces very little here.  And the reason is because American labor is cheap.

What?!

Yes, truly.  Most of my food says "product of the US."  That's the produce and the stuff in cans and boxes. 

But...But...

And you were complaining about the Mexicans.  Or the Chinese even.  Ha. Ha.  Good one.  Americans are being used too.

Okay prove it.

The Canadian to US dollar are about equitable.  It varies daily with the US dollar being slightly stronger...by pennies.  In Canada the current minimum wage varies with each province.  The lowest is 9.95 and the highest is 11.00 CAD.  Ontario is 10.25.  In the US the federal standard is set at 7.25 but each state can set it higher.  The highest currently is in Washington State with it being 9.19.

It's cheaper to set up shop in the US.  Not to mention our growing season is longer because our climate is milder.

But Tariffs...import fees...

Don't exist.  Canada and US have a trade agreement.  We produce goods.  The Canadians don't have to pay an import fee.  So while I've seen some whinnying about lack of jobs in Canada (despite them fairing the Great Recession better) most of the low jobs/blue collar jobs and goods are produced in the US.

That means people who work in factories in the US as being used a bit.  We could raise our minimum wage slightly and Canadians would still by the product because it's still cheaper to produce all the while still lining the pockets of the American (or often time foreign) boss.

I'm betting in Canada if you work at McD's you are making better bucks than your American counterpart although not much more if you take into account the cost of living.  Over four dollars for a gallon of milk and over 2 dollars for a dozen eggs.  But you don't have to pay HST on it in Ontario.  HST stands for Harmonized Sales Tax.  And you don't have to pay for your own health insurance.  A lot of the people I see at work at McD's look like normal people unlike the US where I've seen people who are either ill-educated or immigrants or kids or trouble makers.  No offense of course, but it is a low wage earning job.

Seriously?

Yep.  Don't get me started on what it's like to be an immigrant in a socialized medicine country.  Let's just say it doesn't weird me out as much as the whole getting-to-play-hockey thing does because it infuriates me.

I like Canada.  Truly I think the Mat leave thing is fantastic.  And I know my country has major hiccups.  Perhaps I'm looking at it all wrong and I should suggest that hard working Americans move to Canada to live the high life.  But the lesson is Americans shouldn't give up their work ethic unnecessarily.  But they should reward their low wage earners better.

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