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Canada vs. USA: 9 Mindblowing Differences, According to Canadians

Canada and the US, while part of the same continent, are extremely different on each side of the border. The countries are geographically so close, in fact, that in some northern US states, Canada is only a short drive away. This makes people assume that America and Canada are the same, a fact that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Between religion, currency, politics, and food, there are plenty of differences between the two countries. In fact, we’ve talked to two Canadians, and they shared with us some of the biggest cultural changes they have noticed in the US compared to their country.

So—Canada vs. USA. What are the things that differentiate the two countries? Let’s find out!

canada vs. USA
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1. Canada vs. USA: two different government systems

While Canada is a Commonwealth country whose leader is a prime minister, America is a country led by a president. And, technically, King Charles III is the Head of State of Canada, although he really doesn’t do much.

Political parties are also different in the two countries. In America, we have two major parties: Republican and Democratic. Canada, on the other hand, has four major parties and several smaller ones, like the Liberals, the New Democratic Party, the Green Party, and the Conservatives.

2. Canada vs. USA: the presence of guns

In America, guns are a hot-button issue, and people can even buy them at local Walmarts in certain states. The right to bear a firearm is guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, and there’s still a debate in politics today about whether this right should still exist or not.

According to some of our Canadian readers, they were surprised to see signs in the US advising where you can open carry. They were also surprised by the “no guns allowed” signs on the doors of some commercial buildings. When asked why, they said this whole gun situation isn’t as much of an issue in their country.

3. Canada vs. USA: health care

The most talked-about difference between the US and Canada is their different healthcare systems. While Americans complain about hefty medical bills, Canadians get free healthcare. Money-wise, the Canada vs. USA comparison shows the former has a better health care system.

However, getting medical assistance in Canada is a bit complicated. Once you sign up as part of the health care system, you can indeed see a doctor and receive free medical services. Yet systems operate differently for each province, making things confusing. Moreover, in Canada, it takes forever to be able to see a primary care physician (including the emergency room).

In other words, while medical services in the US can be pretty expensive, there are more doctors available. In Canada, you don’t pay anything for them, but there are long waits.

canada vs usa
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4. Canada vs. USA: breaks at work and vacations

When it comes to jobs, Americans spend more time at work than Canadians. The latter’s take on vacation time is pretty much the same as in Europe. According to HR Daily Advisor, if you work in Canada, you’re given a 30-minute break every five hours. It’s important to point out that while American employees are also given breaks, Canadians are more likely to take them.

As for paid vacation? The amount of vacation time depends on how many years the employee has worked, but Canadians who have been working for a year are eligible to get two weeks of paid vacation. After five of six years of service, that number rises to three weeks.

On the other hand, in the US, employees are usually given much less. As a matter of fact, the US doesn’t legally require businesses and companies to offer paid vacation time. According to Market Watch, when American employees do get paid days off, most don’t even use them.

5. Canada vs. USA: official languages

Next on our Canada vs. USA comparison, we have one of the most obvious yet still interesting differences between the two countries. In America, English is considered the major language. Of course, there may be an enormous percentage of people speaking Spanish, but English is the primary language.

On the other hand, Canada has two official languages (English and French). In 2016, about 30% of Canadians spoke French, and in Quebec, the percentage of the population speaking it was nearly 100. Also, according to another 2016 survey, 30 million people in Canada said they spoke English.

Moreover, in Canada, everything is translated into both English and French, such as stickers on food, signs, etc.

By the way, here’s an interesting book that has plenty more fascinating facts about Canada!

6. Canada vs. USA: the public school systems

In the USA, the public school system is created so that kids start off in kindergarten. The next stage is primary school, which runs through the fifth or sixth grade. Then children move onto middle school through eighth grade, and following that, from ninth grade to 12th grade, they are in high school.

In Canada, however, there’s no such thing as middle school. Kids go to elementary school up through seventh grade, then move onto high school through 12th grade. For instance, in Quebec, high school ends in the 11th grade, and then students enter a vocational school for two years. The next educational phase would be college.

Moreover, on the Canada vs. USA comparison, the former has the largest percentage of adults pursuing higher education: around 55% of Canadians ages 25 to 65 have some level of college education, per a recent report.

The data also showed that Canada boasted the highest percentage of women with a college degree. In comparison, the Census Bureau showed that around 33% of Americans aged 25 or older had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.

7. Canada vs. USA: currency and measurement systems

America has an obvious difference in currency, as it has the US dollar, whereas Canada has its own dollar. Not only do the two countries have different currencies, but Canada also uses coins for one and two dollars, while the US has bills. One of our readers joked that US money makes your wallet look “fat.”

When it comes to measurement systems, Canada, like Europe, uses the metric one. On the other hand, the US uses the older Imperial System of Measurement. Most Americans believe this system is the best way. As a matter of fact, our country is one of the few that uses it.

milk bag
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8. Canada vs. USA: milk industry

Next on our Canada vs. USA comparison, we have something that may surprise you. If you’re visiting Canada and you pop into a grocery store, you’ll spot one huge difference pretty quickly: milk comes in bags.

Why? It’s a better option for the environment compared to a carton of milk. Moreover, it’s more cost-efficient, as it’s cheaper to make. However, the milk doesn’t stay in the plastic bags—when Canadians bring it home, they cut it with scissors and then transfer it to pitchers. That’s because once the bag is no longer properly sealed, the milk doesn’t last quite as long.

9. Canada vs. USA: eating out in large groups

According to some reports, it’s easier for a large group to eat out in Canada. The reason for that is that, when compared to the US, paying a dinner bill when you’re out with a group of people is a whole lot easier in Canada.

One of our readers who lived in Montreal told us that Canadian servers bring a credit or debit card machine to your table to run your card. The device also calculates a tip for you if you choose to leave it, which means you don’t need to do the math.

It must have happened to you at least once when you went out to eat with a group of friends and everyone argued over the bill. Well, in Canada, this thing doesn’t happen, as restaurants can standardize personalized bills, meaning each person automatically receives their own bill to pay.

If you liked our Canada vs. USA comparison, you may also want to read 10 Mind-blowing Buildings That Prove People Can Create Anything.

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