Canada currently ranks number six in the United Nations Human Development Index measuring life expectancy, education, and national income. And a recent "World Happiness Map" released by a British university ranked Canada number ten for its health, wealth, and access to education.
A couple hikes through Alberta, Canada's Banff National Park.
Canada's high standard of living, low population density, and stunning natural beauty play a large role in this northern nation's overall livability. But foremost among the benefits of being Canadian is a national health care system that is open and available to all 33 million of its citizens.
Canadians have enjoyed some form of government-subsidized care for about half a century. But it wasn't until the mid-1980s that federal health care was extended to all—no small feat considering Canada is geographically the second largest country in the world, with densely populated cities as well as far-flung, hard-to-reach provinces and territories.
Canada is one of the few countries on Earth where access to health care is treated as a civil right.
Canada's public health system emphasizes primary and preventive care and promotes national health through such measures as healthy living and anti-smoking efforts, among others. In fact, between 2000 and 2005, smoking by Canadian teenagers dropped by nearly half, from 12.9 to 6.9 percent. And the percentage of Canadians who characterized themselves as "active" increased from 43 to 52 percent in the same timeframe. This proactive health care approach has helped Canada attain the ninth highest life expectancy in the world at 80.22 years.
The system is not perfect though, and a national debate is underway in Canada over how to control costs, improve transparency, decrease waiting times for certain services, and expand coverage of drugs. But the fact remains that Canada is one of the few countries on Earth where access to health care is treated as a civil right. And a recent study found an amazing 84 percent of Canadians are satisfied with their medical coverage.