71 comments

Why are Canadians still being hosed?

Other / Canada, Praises and Complaints

usd

As I reached for my third bottle of $2.97 olive oil, a crowd began to gather, grabbing at the bottles, noticing the deal as well. The next thing on my list was $1.97 bottle of oj, not from concentrate. As with the olive oil, another crowd gathered: “See, that’s why you have to shop on Friday afternoon ’cause by Saturday…everything’s gone!” said one lady to her friend.

When I left the grocery store, I wondered why these sales resounded with the shoppers. Sure, these were basic items that were on sale, but there was more to it.  Then it hit me…

Why are such essential items, groceries, gas and some other not-so-essential, books/magazines, electronics, shoes, restaurants, etc. so damn expensive here in Canada? As per a recent news story, Canadians are still paying significantly more than Americans for goods.

In addition to the US/CAD price discrepancy, I also find that there is a serious lack of selection here – even in comparison to one of Southern-Ontarians’ favourite shopping haunts and also ironically America’s poorest cities, Buffalo, NY.  So what gives?

Why are Canadians still paying more even though we’ve been on parity, if not exceeding, the greenback for quite some time now?  I realise that the retailers claim to do their purchasing 6-months ahead of them and that’s why we haven’t seen lower prices yet, blah, blah, blah, but why am I still seeing a huge US/CAD price gap when I look at the cover prices of books/magazines now?

(Not sure if I should drag gas prices into this and I haven’t filled up in the States, but somehow, I get the feeling that we’re getting ripped off at the pumps as well! Apparently, Albertans see the lowest price at the pumps out of the rest of the provinces. However, American gas prices are even lower than that of Alberta’s!  With Canada having the second largest gas reserves in the world, why are we paying a premium, as opposed to getting price break?)

With all this goofy pricing, and rising Canadian dollar, is the government still surprised at the number of Canadians who go cross the border to do their shopping?

As Canadians, is there anything we can do to protest these high prices? Or should we just complacently accept the short end of the stick in life and pay up? Unfortunately, I do not have the answer as to why we’re being hosed.

Click here to read a CTV News article on this subject. Warning: If you have high blood-pressure, don’t read the various comments of examples of the price differences! ;)

71 comments

  1. Skippy

    Didn’t read the article as didn’t wish to send laptop flying!
    Wages and taxes are higher here,also need to include health taxes(which give us our “Free” healthcare.
    Blah,Blah,Blah…

    Reply
  2. aileen

    If you guys think Canada is bad you should try living in the UK, tax at 20% healthcare in crisis, fuel at about $2 a litre.

    Reply
  3. Mark

    Thats why I call Canada, the land of the ripoff. We pay more to get less. From fast food to gas we get hosed. We never get the good deals you see advertised on american tv for pizza hut/subway..are these more expensive to make here…I think not!

    Reply
  4. Mist_ynight

    I’ve gotten used to the higher prices since moving to my town 4 years ago. Things are more expensive in northern Alberta then they were in Ontario, that inlcudes gas. Some places in Alberta might have the lowest gas prices but up here where we mine the oil its certainly not cheaper.

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  5. Leslie K

    Yes, they are more expensive here. We, thankfully, force our employers to pay a living wage. Stores/restaurants have to pay more into business taxes, benefits, etc.

    We pay more because we have chosen – as a people – to be a socialist society where we care for each other. I’m willing to pay for that, personally.

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  6. SuperM

    If you don’t like it here – move I say. There are many reasons that we pay more. For one, have you seen minimum wage?? It is great that it has gone up because it had to – but that does affect costs, and thus prices. The cost of employees (and not just salary – but CPP, EI, benefits, WSIB fees etc) drive up prices.

    I personally am happy to not pay everytime I go see my doctor and even though there are wait times, I think it is worth it to pay a little more. That is just my 2cents…. I couldn’t imagine haveing to check my bank account before taking my kids to a hospital because I was concerned only to find out it was nothing for a few hundred dollars…

    I find it best not to complain – I am trying to be more positive and optimistic in life to improve my way of living. Complaining just upsets me and gets old… Just smile and hand over your credit card…lol

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  7. tattoodprincess

    Gas prices are FAAAAR cheaper even just right across the border. My mom owns a Jimmy and nit can cost well over $60 to fill her tank here, just the other day it took $35 US to fill it.
    I refuse to more than just a few items for grocery shopping here. I either shop at Tops or Wal-Mart in the states. Tops ALWAYS has 10 for $10 deals and they have a store card that gets you even MORE of a discount, plus they do certain deals like, right now if you buy a turkey for Easter, if you have your Tops card you can get 5 side items for FREE!!!
    I don’t understand why we can’t have anything like that here. I’m lucky and live less than 5 minutes from the border and can go pretty much anytime I want, but I feel really bad for those who don’t have that luxury and are forced to pay Canadian retail prices.
    Even on simple things like books as Stephania pointed out, the listed prices can be as much as $10+ on hardcovers.
    They still haven’t given a good enough excuse in my opinion, as to why we’re forced to pay SO much more.

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  8. Bonnie

    As an economics major, I understand completely why our prices stay up while our dollar has been on par with the US dollar. We need to keep in mind that prices do not adjust overnight – there is always a time lag before prices adjust. There are also many factors that must be considered for a price adjustment. Retailers are reluctant to lower their prices just because consumers are complaining about paying a few dollars more. And they know that consumers are not going to spend the whole day driving to the States just so they can pick up their groceries.

    We also need to keep in mind that the Canadian economy works differently than the American economy. Here in Canada, we are fortunate enough to have free healthcare and subsidized post-secondary education which allows less fortunate families to afford a better education. Our costs of living is also higher than the States, which is why our minimum wage is also substantially higher than the States.

    My point is, we can’t be so quick to jump to conclusions because we are unhappy about paying a few dollars more. Those dollars strengthen the economy, and if we hit a depression, it is consumer spending that will dampen the effects and bring the economy back into recovery. As a fellow Canadian, I too, would love it if my wallet didn’t thin so quickly, but I value my healthcare and education, too, and I know that every dollar that I spend will go back into the economy and help me later.

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  9. Emily

    Stephania are you a pro writer? I love reading your articles on the blog :)

    Like others are saying, we do have free health care and higher min wage. But the gas prices really peeves me off! That’s all I want to contribute to this post so I don’t end up going on a rant.

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  10. Sally

    Well our heatlhcare isn’t fee were taxed to death for our “perks” the amount that my husband has taken off his cheques is shamefully high.

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  11. lawfirm42

    Us having 1/10 of the population of the states likely plays a big role in the price discrepancy despite parity of our currency. When you’re producing, distributing and supplying an audience that’s 10x the size all costs are going to decrease. It’s similar the price difference between shopping at a Walmart or your local Mom & Pop store. Not to mention certain Canadian trade laws/business laws making it harder for Canadian businesses to buy American (not necessarily a bad thing at all but ultimately leads to higher prices for consumers). Look at the restrictions placed Canadian bookstores in regards to purchase from Canadian publishers as one example.. Either live with it, do most of your shopping in the states and watch Canadian prices climb higher or lobby the government for completely free trade (and get cheaper consumer goods for an economic trade-off). Personal choice people have to make, or of course you could always become an american.. :S

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  12. TaraF

    I’ve read about this from many sources and the big thing reported is the tarriffs, what it costs to import goods and services. So the moral of the story: We need to produce, supply and buy more “Made In Canada” products. Think about it, when was the last time you purchased anything from clothes to food and saw a “made in canada” label on it?

    As for paying more for gas, we are being blantanly gouged and the Government won’t step in because they are making a mighty dollar off of it. It’s kind of like Ontario producting so much Power that we PAY other Provinces and even the United States to take it off of our hands and yet our Hydro rates are skyrocketing here! It comes down to VERY POOR Government choices and we the taxpayers pay for it in the end.

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  13. lawfirm42

    Also, relative to living in Northern Canada, those in southern Ontario have absolutely nothing to complain about in regards to cost or selection of consumer products.

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  14. PPK

    We also have a LOT less people than the Americans. This does not build economy of scale when it comes to distribution of goods.

    We are actually pretty well off comparing to other countries in the world.. like Europe and Asia. Where we are living in luxuries.

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  15. Dave V.

    Why are we still paying the same or more even though we’ve been on parity, if not exceeding, the greenback for quite some time now?

    One word: GREED

    The Canadian businessman has notoriously used ‘currency exchange’ as an ongoing excuse to keep their products artificially higher in price in order to pocket additional profits.

    For the most part, this has gone relatively unnoticed as the average Canadian consumer usually believes what they are told and also the CDN dollar has almost always been below the USD. It is now just recently that things have reversed and even the regular consumer has noticed that something just ‘doesn’t add up’.

    Although an argument can me made that prices do not adjust overnight, keep in mind that our cost of living is much higher here than in the US even though are standard of living is almost identical.

    The earlier suggestion that ‘If you don’t like it here – move’ is completely ludicrous. That ‘Love it or Leave it’ philosophy became outdated shortly after the Vietnam war. Rightfully so. We as consumers and Canadians have every right to question and scrutinize prices whether it be for a bottle of olive oil or a litre of gasoline. The only thing that will derail these high prices is illuminating the issue for all to see.

    On a brighter note, summer is quickly approaching and our greedy Canadian businessman will begin salivating for the mighty U.S tourist dollar which our warmer weather brings.

    You can be certain that during these warm months the Canadian dollar will lower against it’s US counterpart as our politicians need to keep our businessmen happy. At least for the summer!

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  16. dizzyb

    Our food costs are very reasonable. The US might have lower prices on some items, but we are all very fortunate to have such a variety and abundance of food available to us for so relatively little.
    Maybe a sky-rocketing cost on oil is just what we need to make us (Canadians and Americans) change our addiction to oil. We over-consume just about every resource imaginable, throwing away just as much while so many elsewhere don’t have enough to survive. How about we change our consumption habits (do we REALLY need that new pair of shoes? or that new gadget?) before complaining about the price of commodities?

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  17. Karla

    For those who say our healthcare isn’t “free”…would you rather have the portion of your taxes that is taken off put back on and leave EVERYONE to themselves to “save” for healthcare emergencies? Sure you might not need it right now, but it is far better to be able to go to the doctor when you have to and NOT have to add the stress of worrying about how to pay for it. Because obviously, that is working so well for the US. It isn’t very hard to calculate your budget according to NET income instead of gross.

    AND this “problem” is not unique to Canada/US relationships. Many people in Switzerland, especially in Basel, regularly do their shopping in Germany and France. But what do they get for living in Switzerland instead? For one thing, an $18 minimum wage!

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  18. honeydoo

    i shop in the US about 2x/mo for mostly non-essentials. 80% of stuff is cheaper. (by 10-30%).. BUT, our fresh fruits/veg/meat are cheaper/on par which i’m glad for b/c i eat mostly veggies. frozen/processed food and snacks are cheaper in the US, but they’re also arguably unhealthier and more overweight. oh, our paper products cost less too–we’ve got all the trees ;-)

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  19. sammy

    Because I’m young and don’t really need healthcare right now, I used to think that the tax that goes into healthcare is unnecessary and would rather get that money back. I’m healthy; how many times in a year do i actually go to a doctor or get medicine?

    Then… My parents suddenly were diagnosed with cancer and then there were all these operation fees, hospital visits, etc. and it is during this time that I really started to appreciate that I am in Canada. I agree with the people above, you definitely don’t want the stress of worrying how to pay for it.

    As for the rising cost of items… this is where SmartCanucks and coupon sites have helped me a lot! I always look out for sales and not buy what I don’t need. :D

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  20. Mandolin

    I have mixed feelings on this one. As an American in Canada I see the price differences. Yet I also like some of the family friendly benefits. I appreciate the difference in minimum wages. I love canada and Quebec which I call home.

    I can’t adjust to some price differences and I do not believe the population difference quite explains everything. I mean in a mom and pop store in sue saint mary I could see why a small population = higher prices. At a Walmart in Montreal or Toronto…not so much. I live close enough to Plattsburg that I can fly from a US airport. I see the 99 dollar flights to florida and north carolina. The 99 dollars would not even cover canadian fees on a flight at the montreal airport, that is the same distance from my house as the US airport (and i live in the city)…let alone the price of the flight itself. Part of this is import fees, part of it canadian taxes, but part of it is companies trying to make as much money as possible and the canadian government not allowing enough competition… (ahem CTV, Videotron, BMO)

    The thing is that canadians tolerate it. You got to step up and say no with your pocket books. Write about it on blogs. Buy used, buy american, reduce reuse and recycle.

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  21. Jackie

    I lived in the states for 7 years before I moved to Vancouver 2 years ago. Frankly speaking, I’m extremely disappointed at prices in Canada, especially when Canadian dollar is now more expensive than US dollar.

    Also, online shopping is horrible. Not only all products are charged tax no matter if the company has local stores in the province, but I can’t find a lot of products here. I have to buy on eBay or ask my friends to ship them to me from the States, which usually takes half a month to arrive!

    Yes, health care is good. But think about the incentive. Young people won’t prefer staying in Canada coz they do not need to go to doctors that often and can’t enjoy that benefit. Old people want to stay here as they do get a lot from health care. The result will be aging of the population.

    Canada is a beautiful and wonderful country which has so many resources. But sadly I have to say when compare to the States it is not a great place to live especially when at my age. :(

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  22. Joanne G

    I was in S. California last week and didn’t find prices much cheaper than Vancouver Island. Gas was over $4 per gallon. I looked at Costco, Vons, Target etc. at clothes, groceries, toys. Even with the dollar above par, I wasn’t enticed to buy much–including the outlet mall. However, there is the lure of buying items (Target’s kid’s clothes) that are slightly different than in BC. I guess it depends what part of Canada you are from, what part of the States you visit, and what consumer goods you are comparing.

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  23. Veggout

    I LOVE Canada! Peaceful, clean, but I guess high prices are our cost for great living. Shopping in the USA is NICE! Wide selection, great prices but there living conditions are not so great (in some areas). Overall, if you cant afford it don’t buy it or use coupons and kill the retail PRICE!

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  24. Deidra

    I’m an American and came to Canada as a student. Having spent a year on my own in the States I got used to the low price of foods (especially junk like sodas and frozen dinners). When I moved to Canada it was very difficult to justify my grocery bill! My family could hardly believe the cost of groceries. At least once a year I visit my family and buy my necessities and stock up on some major money savers. Now that I have kids (and very little room to stash goods in the car), I have to choose between saving the money or bringing home special items that I can only find there (Moxie, for example).

    There is one bonus to this difference, I’m less likely to buy junk food! In the US it’s cheaper to buy soda than milk or juice – so I drank a lot of soda. Though, at the time I was 18 and didn’t know how to cook or budget my groceries. :P

    In any case, when debating where my family should settle the cost of groceries/etc here definitely made a mark on my “Cons” list of living in Canada.

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  25. Orbital

    I can assure you this extra price we pay is not due to retailers being greedy and just making more money. People often compare U.S- Canada prices and ask why they are so different even though our dollar is par. Although it may at par, or slightly worth more as a currency, the U.S dollar has a much higher purchasing power. This means that for every dollar they spend, they can purchase more then Canadians. Why? Things like minimum wage and salary levels. Although their dollar gets them more goods, it also is harder to earn.

    Another reason is the taxes. As mentioned above, Canadians pay more in taxes for a number of reasons. One is for our ‘free’ health care. You can complain that its not free and blah blah blah, but by that mentality I would assume you do not purchase house insurance, life insurance or any type of insurance. Essentially everyone pays into our health care system through taxes and it is similar to pooling the risk. You pay into house insurance every year right? Do you complain? If you didn’t, your house could burn down and you would be homeless. Well without our health care system, your family member gets diagnosed with cancer and suddenly you cant afford to own your house anymore. How about something as simple as your son breaking their leg in soccer? $7500 out of your pocket. Your mother/grandmother needs a hip replacement and cant afford it? $32,000. This is of course assuming you do not pay into health insurance. To give you an idea what its like to live in the U.S and not receive health insurance through your employer, the average was $5,000 a year for 1 person, with $1000 deductibles. Somehow our taxes don’t look so bad anymore.

    Another reason we pay more taxes is how big our country is and how spread out our population is. It is not cheap to maintain the roads and infrastructure throughout the country, especially when we do not have the benefit of spreading that cost between a massive population. Also look at our geography. We have a lot more mountainous areas and difficult terrain then the U.S. We also get a hell of a lot more snow as a whole then the U.S does. These add to the costs of infrastructure and of course snow clearing, which isn’t cheap

    Finally, Canada has a lot more ‘red tape’ for business and small business meaning a lot more regulation and rules which adds to the cost of doing business.

    To wrap it up, we pay more for goods to maintain our quality of life. You dont like our higher taxes? Go to the U.S, they are boasting a federal debt of $14,234,140,900,234 compared to our 560,937,641,457. Not like that has a future effect or anything right? I just hope you dont become ill or become injured during your move down there.

    Re: Our oil being more expensive then U.S even though its made here. We live in a world with a global market. It doesn’t matter where the commodity is produced, it costs the same all over the world. The only thing that really changes that price is sometimes shipping costs (although not often) and the taxes. Going back to my above point, Canada is spread out. Although its easy to forget living in the city there are millions of roads going up north and all around without the large number of people to help spread the costs around. Are gas prices insane in general? yes Are the oil companies greedy as hell? yes. Are they making any more money off Canadians then Americans? nope The bottom line is, do you want gas prices like the U.S and have shitty roads full of potholes or snow? Or are you okay with paying a bit more taxes for some safety and quality of life.

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  26. anonymous

    Okay, so here are my thoughts. I do agree that sometimes we need to have a more “positive” outlook and we want to be careful that we are not complaining all the time. However, sometimes it is important to speak out about certain issues (not necessarily this one mind you) because if we do not, there will never be a change because the government will not change anything unless the people are unhappy and push to make that change happen.

    That being said, speaking about this particular issue. While I do agree with a lot of the points mentioned in the comments as to why our prices are higher, there has to be a line drawn at some point. Prices right now in Canada are sky rocketing on everything from gas to groceries and more. I hear all the time about the extra dollars we are spending and where it is going, that it is helping for this and helping for that. That is great, but at a certain point, some of us literally cannot afford to spend those extra dollars. Then what? What happens when the money that is coming in is no longer sufficient due to the high costs of what has to come out? And we do see this – the costs are continuing to rise but the pay cheque is not. Oh sure they have raised the minimum wage quite a bit from what it was, but how much has the food and gas costs risen from what they were back then too?

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  27. anonymous

    Oh and Orbital, I’m not sure where you live, but where I used to live we did have shitty roads full of potholes and snow. And I’ve seen some pretty big places (Barrie and Huntsville come to mind) where the roads are bad and the snow removal is not great.

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  28. sammy

    I enjoyed reading your post Orbital! I love Canada despite the higher costs. Wouldn’t pick US over Canada!

    For one, education here is cheaper too. My US friend said he has to pay significantly more for post-ed compared to here (I’m in Ontario). $80K for optometry here; a whooping $200-300K there (this is after factoring in in-state tuition and such).

    And unrelated haha: last summer when I went to the US i noticed stuff like junk food DOES tend to be cheaper! This is when I start to think… maybe it’s good that I’m in Canada. I’m probably biased but there is more obesity in the US right?

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  29. Orbital

    This is true, but it could be even worse :/ 3 day snow removal is better then a week or 2 week.

    I do agree with you, we are in a period of inflation, which can very well lead into hyperinflation. Unfortunately, this is not just a problem for Canada but North America as a whole, and possibly even the world. Unfortunately it is just a reality. The capitalist economy model is in a crisis and it has got to the point where it can no longer support anymore growth. The period of hyper consumption is over and we now are moving backwards. What happens when prices are way to high to compete with our wages? We cut back. We no longer live our lavish lifestyles. We get rid of our vehicles, or use them more and switch to public transit. We eat at home instead of out and go back to a more basic diet. The concept of community will come back into play. Essentially the middle class will dissapear.

    The result of all of this of course is an economic crash or a massive downturn and an eventual restructuring. I imagine it will come in the U.S first which will of course hurt the Canadian economy as well since we are based off the u.S economy so much. Our current economy is based on constant growth, there obviously is a point where it will fail

    Of course this is all assuming they do not think of some genius way to fix it all, which I think is unlikely.

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  30. adora

    In general, Canadians pay 20% more on retail items than Americans. Mainly because Canadians scatter around a large Large LARGE area of land. Most of the price difference is on delivery cost. Smaller market also means more overheads per item. With higher fuel prices, we will definitely feel more of it.

    But keep in mind that average Canadian family spend 10-13% of their income on food. It’s really low on a global scale. In poorest countries, people pay more than 70% of their income on food. Even in rich countries like Sweden, Japan or Korea, people pay 15-18%.

    (BTW, it is very Canadian to want the good deals that the Americans have and still dislike Americans. lol)

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  31. bambinoitaliano

    It’s simple, US has ten times the population of Canada. Hence the power of consumption is much greater. Instead of looking at the disadvantage, look at the advantages. In comparison to Europe and Asia, consumer goods are way cheaper thanks to our close proximity with US. Until we become the 51st state of the US, don’t count on getting the same pricing. The glass is half full.

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  32. Villa

    Orbital, you mentioned global market as the reason for the price of oil. That still does not explain the fact that the cheapest gas prices in Canada (in Calgary and Edmonton) are higher than in most places in the US.

    The US gets most of its oil from foreign sources and this includes extra costs for delivery. At the same time the oil sold in Calgary and Edmonton is manufactured in Alberta and has much lower delivery cost.

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  33. Scott

    I wouldn’t mind paying the higher prices if these goods were manufactured in Canada. Paying mark-ups for goods from the global supply chain is irritating as the original author of this post has indicated. Consider this a call for greater national self-sufficiency!

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  34. Orbital

    Villa- The reason is the taxes as i have mentioned. Canada taxes its gasoline at a much higher rate then the U.S does for the reasons i mentioned above

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  35. S.Tyler

    I am a bit tired of hearing people complain about rising gas prices. I drive 45 km to work and back, so I can sympathize with anyone who depends on gas for their livelihood. And it is not so simple as “find a job closer to home,” as it is my career.

    The way I see it is that there are many events taking place in the world today that are horrific and the only product of them that directly affects us is gas prices; I think this means that Canadians are doing pretty good, so to speak. Rising gas prices for the majority of us is an inconvenience. For people in many parts of the world the price of gas is a matter of life and death as it raises the cost of food and other necessities.

    Gas is expensive, no doubt, but I need it. It may cost an extra few dollars to fill up my tank, but in the end, I have a tank to fill up, a job to go to, and groceries in my fridge. Like I said, I think if gas prices are our biggest problem, we’re doing alright.

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  36. Professor Krupnikas

    I am so impressed with so many insightful comments in this thread – wow! The cost of “doing business” here is so much higher and I am in full agreement with those who are happy to pay a bit more so that Canadians have a better quality of life with healthcare and living wages for service workers.
    As Tyler points out there’s so much going on in the world. I suggest people look into Jeff Rubin’s recent work – enjoy the “cheap” prices while we have ‘em. Every time I eat an off-season strawberry, I realize it might be the last one I can afford (same goes for those in the U.S.).

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  37. B777

    Some of the points mentioned thus far, I agree with, and some I do not.

    In my view, most of the complaints are completely VALID. We are getting hosed by an extra-large sized greed hose.

    Orbital, I’m going to have to disagree with your explanation, in fact I’d say you’re being generous in justifying the high costs we face. We had essentially the exact same quality of life 5 years ago.

    Consider this:
    -We paid for the same health care 5 years ago like we are paying today. Except now, you wait longer.
    -We paid for the exact same distribution costs associated with the size of Canada 5 years ago that we are paying today. Unless Canada got bigger or smaller?
    -Taxes were not that much different 5 years ago either. Retail wise, it wasn’t combined into HST (hosing sales tax), but split into GST and PST.
    -THE MOST IMPORTANT DIFFERENCE: the Canadian dollar was worth about 75-80 US cents. Therefore, most people understood that proportionally, things would be justified in being a bit more expensive here.

    But today, the dollar is stable above parity. This would mean that at the LEAST, cost of items should remain relatively the same. BUT NO! We are paying more, than WE used to, which was ALREADY more than Americans paid. Where does this ghost premium come from?? That is shameless greed exploiting a population that doesn’t have a choice.

    And with respect to price of oil, sure we’re in a globalized economy, but the least the Canadian govt can do is subsidize the price of gas for LOCALS, esp. considering we’re the 6TH LARGEST OIL PRODUCING NATION ON EARTH! Instead, the gov’t taxes people to their teeth. That would be ok, if the tax dollars were used wisely, but no, even that is blown on wasteful spending. We still have crappy roads with potholes, among other things.

    Frankly, the whole system is ridiculous. How many election candidates have you seen even bring up this issue? They’re all tip-toeing around it because they know who the crooks are: corporations for selling the oil high, and politicians for taxing the gasoline even higher.

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  38. fanofearl

    I am a regular shopper in Western New York, but I am also a regular shopper in Niagara. In my opinion, there are some things that are cheaper in the US, but many things are the same price or less in Canada. Like many media stories, they’re talking about an average price gap, depending on what I am buying, there’s a pretty good chance that I may still come out ahead in Canada. Take the story with a grain of salt, I’d say.

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  39. iwannadeal

    I’m sure many Canadians are like our family–We can’t afford things here in Canada, but in the US they become affordable for us. We just went to upstate NY last weekend to shop as we often do and as usual found significantly lower prices on necessities, and paid $20 less for a tankful of gas. Not to mention lower taxes. As for our ‘great healthcare’ paid by our ridiculous taxes, I pity the folks who pay the taxes, then can’t find a family doctor! In our family, a member is waiting an unreasonable long time for treatment. We used to live in the states, and daily life was cheaper and easier. Smart Canucks travel south of the border to shop. Sorry, but that’s the way it is!

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  40. Sally

    You just can’t call something “free” when it isn’t simple as that.

    It would really suck living in fear that each off season strawberry you eat may be the last. I wont live in fear like that as the US tv has taught us.

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  41. Kid Teaching Neo a Thing or Two

    Everyone saying that it’s normal to pay 20% more than Americans because of i) population scarcity, ii) regulations, iii) whatever other excuse…you may be absolutely right, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that the US dollar has weakened and that this relative percentage should decrease.

    Here’s a simple example:

    US and CAN dollar are at parity
    Americans pay 100 US dollars for product X
    Canadians pay 120 CAN dollars for product X
    Canadians pay 20% more…everything’s fine at this point.

    US dollar is now worth 90% of a CAN dollar.
    Americans pay 100 US dollars for product X
    Canadians still pay 120 CAN dollars for product X even though they should be paying 108 CAN dollars for product X to account for weakened dollar.
    Canadians are now paying 12 dollars more.

    Has population in Canada become even more spread out? Have regulations changed? What has changed other than the US dollar becoming weaker?

    Our buying power should have increased… not decreased… so why did it decrease?

    At 108 CAN dollars we’d still be paying 20% more than Americans. But at 120 CAN dollars we’re now paying 33% more!!!

    This is what’s happening. Our dollar is stronger than the US dollar but prices are not being lowered. Population scarcity and regulations or any other excuse anyone can come up with does not account for the loss in buying power.

    Reply
  42. Orbital

    Inflation is the aspect you are not taking into account B777 and that is what is driving all of this. Inflation increases the cost of everything and essentially reduces the purchasing power of our dollar. By putting your money in the bank or holding it under your mattress you basically lose 2% of your money every year because last year it could buy 1000 loaves of bread and now you can only buy 980. It is a normal phenomenon and will not go away. Our wages have not been increasing at the same rate as inflation and thus living expenses are truly going up. However, its not as simple as increasing our wages because then guess what, price of goods goes up even more. increase wages, they go up more. Meanwhile we are printing more and more money to keep up with it. The result is hyperinflation.

    The solution is not the government subsidizing everything the solution is for people to get off their butts and cut back and sacrifice a bit. Everyone points at corporations and business and call them greedy. Most small business owners make no more then someone working for minimum wage. They don’t do it for money, they do it because they enjoy it. Hate corporations and their ‘greed’? Shop locally and pay double because they cant take advantage of economies of scale and efficiency. These corporations are often publicly traded companies, they are responsible to their shareholders. They lose profits, they lose faith by shareholders and lose funding. Sooner or later they cease to exist and your paying $6 for a jug of milk at mom and pops corner store. At least theirs not that greedy corporation Loblaws in town tho right? The other option is they cut prices and in order to compensate they lay off some of their workforce and unemployment rate goes up.

    Most of us are just as guilty of being ‘greedy’ as these businesses. We expect to maintain our high quality of life which really isn’t necessary. Yup, gas is really expensive. Use the options available to you. If work is close enough, bike or walk. Take public transit, carpool with fellow employees. If there are no options because you live 45 minutes away then look at your other luxurious spending and cut it from there. The bottom line is for the most part, people aren’t willing to do this. Im not saying this is everyone but there are a lot of people that simply want to point the finger at the government, companies and whoever else they can and cry because they cant maintain their lifestyle. We were in a period of hyper consumption, now we aren’t and guess what you wont be able to have the same things you did 5 years ago. Like I said before, take public transit, carpool, don’t eat out as often, eat a more basic diet, you don’t need steak every couple days. I would say shop sales and use coupons, but i assume everyone does that already on here :)

    Be honest with yourselves, how many people are guilty of this? How many could bus to work but it takes a bit longer and is inconvenient. How many could set up carpools with their employees but again its inconvenient? People complain about gas prices and see the only solution as lower prices, but its not.

    This year i decided to get rid of my insurance for the year because I really couldn’t afford all the costs associated with it. Instead I used the bus to get to school and other places. Unfortunately the bus system sucks here and the closest stop is 1 km away from my house, so i walked every day back and forth. Now, I am not calling myself a saint by no means, but I am just saying its doable. All in all I was able to save about $1500 on insurance, god who knows how much on gas, repairs etc. Furthermore I got some more exercise and helped the environment by not driving everywhere. Of course this wouldn’t work for everyone, but maybe carpooling would

    I just see way too much crying, we are among some of the most fortunate people in the world. Its actually really disgusting when you think about it. We cry about higher food prices when we have fruit year round and a selection of anything we want. We cry about higher gas prices when we all have access to a vehicle or public transportation. Most of the worlds population is lucky I guess, because they dont worry about any of this…. because they dont even have the basics. Does it suck? yes it does. Do something about it and use your several options available.

    This isn’t a simple issue of ‘the government should be subsidizing this and that’ it doesn’t work. We are at a debt of hundreds of billions as a country as it and run a deficit every year. Where do you think that subsidization money comes from? They could print more money… but were back to the inflation problem. It comes from our taxes. In the end all it is, is trading money. Sure, the government will subsidize your gas, and then take that money back by increasing property taxes or some other type of taxes.

    In terms of health care, our population is increasing so yes, we pay the same and we wait longer. There are more people in the system.

    HST, well that is a whole other discussion but it is widely misunderstood and not as bad as people think due to the HST credit

    I do agree that spending is often done in a poor fashion and we do lose a lot of tax dollars because of that. Unfortunately this is just a product of the capitalist system. Its greedy on all levels.

    Just keep in mind that its easy to think of things locally. It doesnt cost that much, or take that much time to fix the potholes or clear the snow on your road. Multiply that by 10000x. At least one person on every street is going to expect their snow to be cleared or potholes to be fixed right away. Do you think its feasible to do these tasks on every single street at the exact same time? If you want this then get together with your neighborhood. You can all pitch in for a plow and help with the snow clearing every week lol

    Reply
  43. ergo2

    “As Canadians, is there anything we can do to protest these high prices?”

    short answer: vote in the next election.

    can’t wait till those smart meters start in November here in Ontario , then we will need FPC for everthing :(

    Reply
  44. Orbital

    A big assumption I see is that our Canadian dollar is getting stronger. In fact, it is not. The U.S dollar is just becoming extremely weak but in the general market, the Canadian dollar is weakening and is second weakest currency in front of the U.S.

    Although it is cheaper to import American made goods, it is more expensive now to import goods from other countries. So yes, we should see a drop in some goods, but we would also see an increase in goods for the pure ‘currency factor’ as well, so it goes both ways.

    As a downfall, it is a lot harder for us to export our goods to the U.S. Things like softwood lumber. All in all the effect is a decrease in Canada’s GDP which is bad for our economy. Less exports to U.S = less income for Canada= less taxes being collected.

    You simply cannot compare U.S-Canada prices, its not that simple. A simple math calculation comparing currency prices from 5 years to now means essentially nothing due to the complexity and number of factors involved. Wholesalers often dont even change their prices for currency due to the volatility, they simply absorb the profits/losses and assume they will come out equal in the long run. Currency really doesn’t have a huge effect on prices, and if it does it takes a very long time for the prices to reflect it.

    I think instead of complaining about it, people should be taking advantage of it by going on vacations to the U.S, importing big items like vehicles if they are going to buy one and invest in U.S assets in order to use the positives in your favor.

    Reply
  45. Andrea

    Seriously, why do you need 120 choices of salad dressing? 45 types of plain chips? Yes, sometimes I lament not being able to buy something I’ve seen in the States, but I DON’T LIVE IN THE STATES!! Every country has it own special things…I crave chocolate bars that you can only get in New Zealand…big whoop.

    Someone mentioned that we are 1/10 the size of the US…and I think they mean that literally!! For pete sake, they have 120 choices of salad dressing and I think they use them all on the same salad!! What is cheapest in the states, especially food wise, is all of the CRAP.

    My choice is to buy less crap, buy good quality that will last, buy fresh food and make my own everything – from bread to cinnamon buns to dumplings. Does it take more time? Hell yes, does it cost more? sometimes…is it worth it? DEFINATELY!

    Reply
  46. Cheapo

    More reasons why we, as Canadians pay more; Packaging. We have to have everything printed in both English and French and in metric. Canada’s FDA requires more detailed nutritional information on the packaging than in the States, again in both official languages. This is also a reason why we don’t get the selection here as in the States. A lot of it doesn’t pass Canadian standards, and many companies won’t adjust their packaging to attract the Canadian market because they (the USA) has 300 million consumers and so a paltry 30 million more from Canada isn’t worth the cost or the effort. And for those companies who do comply, WE pay more for it to offset the additional costs of dealing with Canadian food and drug policies.

    As for Canadian health care, it may not be perfect but at least we don’t lay awake at night worrying how we are going to pay for that gall bladder operation. Most Canadians wouldn’t have a clue on what a doctor’s appointment would cost if we had to pay for it. But ask an American, they’ll tell you and they don’t even pay extra for the aggrevation that we get for free :-).

    Many Americans purchase additional insurance in addition to their company health care benefits that’s another cost of $500 plus, out of pocket.
    So, I don’t think Americans have a cheaper way of life, they just pay for it in a different way and I think in many cases they pay more!

    I live in a large potato farming area, and we don’t get cheaper potatoes.

    Gas on the other hand, WTF is up with that?

    Good discussion!

    Reply
  47. sniperc151

    Gasoline prices can easily be explained. The amount of oil Canada produces has nothing to do with it. Canada does not refine much of its oil into gasoline. Most of our oil goes across the boarder to the US where it is refined there.

    Because we do not refine crazy amounts of oil into gasoline there is a limited supply compared to the US. This then takes on the old adage of supply and demand. So Canada has low supply of gasoline and High Demand = higher $$$

    The US on the other hand has lots of refineries and usually has to have a large large supply, which means their demand although higher that Canada’s can easily be met by their supply.

    As per Alberta having cheeper prices, this is because there are a few large refineries in Alberta. Although there are refineries across Canada, Albertan refineries are located in a spot where the demand is much lower than a populous of say… Toronto so naturally prices are going to be lower.

    Reply
  48. Jen M

    I grocery shop in Bellingham, WA every 2 weeks. I can get organic products (milk, meat, cheese) there for cheaper than regular products in Canada. The 1 hour drive is worth it! I fill up on gas too while there.
    I’d LOVE to shop locally if it was cheaper. But with our budget so tight, my family actually can’t afford Canadian grocery prices. SAD!

    Reply
  49. Boycott bad business

    Smartcanucks should start a section that lists price differences on stores/products that are inflated compared to what the selling price is in the States. Prices should start to become cheaper in Canada given our dollar is stronger and anticipated to be stronger for the next couple of years.

    Help us with information so that we can Boycott products and stores that hose us!

    Reply
  50. PPK

    The government we have and the $$$ we have (purchase power) contributed to the price differences in business terms.

    Government –

    1) Look around, literally every finished goods that comes in Canada (really everything~!), it will get taxed/dutied at the border – costs transfers to consumers. You know that in BC, 33% of gas prices goes to the Fed/Prov government for levies, fees, taxes

    2) Our government also encourages shipping our natural resources/raw materials to China/USA and they re-sell the finished goods to us at a much higher markup prices. eg. lumbers!

    3) Our government also limits the amount of external competitions in the name of protecting the local businesses, really they are just excuses so that the big “locals” boys can collude and gouge us at the end. The dinosaurus at CRTC is just a great example!

    Purchase Power –

    1) Look at your paycheck and T1, how much of your gross is being taxed? Your net becomes your purchase power. Compare to the US, we have much fewer people, much less purchase power.

    2) Assuming business operating costs are fixed and similar between US/Can, naturally it is a lot easier to distribute/sell goods where the ROI is higher when more people can afford it.

    I feel that our government has a lot to do with this, therefore, it’s time to vote for someone whose interests are not to protect the big boys, but the average people.

    Reply
  51. Rebecca

    Even once Amazon introduced Amazon.ca, I continued to shop Amazon.com for books and DVDs. It’s STILL cheaper to purchase from the American website, pay the duties/tax and shipping, than it is to purchase from the Canadian site – even with FREE shipping. True, there are things you can’t purchase from the american site (like some electronics etc)…. but if you’re just buying boooks or DVDs, it’s the way to go.

    Reply
  52. rob

    the whole reason everything is so expensive is because they most likely pay tax to import it, if its a distributor the company buyng from them pays tax on that and then we pay tax on it again, combine that with the near 30% more expensive gas due to more taxes and theres the whole reason we pay more, but i at least thats why canada isnt in to much of a dept. yet. and can afford health care and all that stuff,

    i find a lot of stuff on BestBuy USA and BestBuy CA are the same price, aside from a few things like IPods,

    PS3 at one point was actually cheaper in Canada for a while when our $ dropped to the .80s cuz USA and CA has the same MSRP

    Reply
  53. liberty

    for those of you who keep thinking that we pay more because of our socialist values… please think again. we don’t pay more because of anything other than the fact that we will pay more. these higher prices are not because we pay a higher wage- in america things are cheaper by about the percentage that we pay a higher wage at, and they have better tax breaks than we will ever enjoy- writing off interest on your mortgage-hello??
    in america many of the goods are cheaper because they are not penalized with taxes as they enter the country. they pay cheaper prices because they do not need to make different packaging to accomodate the french on packages. they also pay cheaper prices because of a tax incentive to move products out the door in under 90 days. once their merchandise is over 90 days old they pay a tax on it, so instead of paying dime one in tax the stores would rather just get it out the door. it is a wonderful economic driver for the entire country- for consumers, manufacturers and retailers, and something we lack in this country. its why marshalls is so much better priced than winners, despite being the same company with the same concept.
    our income taxes pay for our social programs, not the price of goods. please never confuse the two. we pay more for goods because we are a society that is willing to sit back and take it- seriously, when was the last time canadians rallied behind anything that didn’t involve hockey?

    Reply
  54. liberty

    also, i have to comment on the continued representation of our healthcare system as “free” when it is so not free. half of all your income tax goes to healthcare in canada. when you really look at what you are paying, and often what you get for that cost, you can actually compare it to the cost of health insurance in america and decide what is actually the better deal. in our house, i know that for what we spent in taxes halved we would have had one heck of a healthcare plan in america, and we would have had access to things that are not readily available where we live. things like a dr for my hubby, an mri within a day instead of waiting 7 months after waiting over a year to see a specialist.
    people in this country do not have all the facts on healthcare, and often misunderstand the way we pay for our system. they also do not understand that we do not get what we pay for across the board. healthcare is equally paid for in canada, but not equally dispensed. there are places where we really do not get what we pay for.

    Reply
  55. Theresa

    Compared to some U.K blogs I read, we are laughing. Maybe if you look at countries besides the U.S, you will see that Canada is not that expensive after all.

    Reply
  56. Mari

    In hindsight, I was also little annoyed with such huge gap between prices here in US and Canada (ie.//alcohol, gas, dairy), but I do realize that we do have higher minimum wage and HEALTHCARE!! (13% tax), so I don’t think I mind it too much. Only few dollars difference.
    However, I think it would certainly be nice to have more selection just like in States and wished it was cheaper to eat out as well…

    Reply
  57. mickeymouselam

    I do agree that overall we get gouged for our prices. I just returned from a shopping trip to Niagra Falls NY. and the price differences were amazing. I paid $1.99lb for boneless akinless chicken brests, 3.99lb for the chicken tenders, 1.39lb for ground turkey, 1.95 a gallon for hormone free vitD milk, 1.25 a dozen eggs, 2.29 for butter 0.39lb for bananas. but than there were the non grocery items. I got a 2XLT shirt for my fiancee and it was 15.00 with tax at JCPenny. Greeting cards from major brand cost 2.48 total for 3of them. Yes most fruits and veg are the same price and beef can cost just as much but if you factor in the savings of all those other items it would work out to be cheaper for your pocket book all round!! We are so getting gouged damn beef pultry pork and milk bords driving up the costs of essentials!!

    Reply
  58. Laura

    I’d love to know why so many people don’t see anything wrong with shopping for basics regularly in the US yet enjoying all the comforts of our high taxes?
    When you shop in the US, the money doesn’t go to Canadian businesses, Canadian employees, doesn’t go to the government and therefore the social programs they’re designed to support.
    However, I bet if any of you were ill, you’d try to get care through a doctor, clinic, or the ER in Canada rather than driving to the US and paying out of pocket.

    Reply
  59. Mary Ann

    I agree with everything you mentioned except the cost of food in Canada v/s USA. I just returned from Florida after spending 5 weeks there & food prices are about the same in both Countries. ( Or if I did a one on one comparison I might have to say that USA prices were a bit higher). Fuel is much cheaper in USA, which was a good thing because we drive a RV & it takes a lot of gas to keep it running.

    Reply
  60. bdidol

    Most of the dumb people now-a-days writes blog. We pays higher taxes, that justifies the healthcare and all the bum living on social welfare. But that does not justify higher cost of products and higher gas prices.

    Walk up Canada! You are all ripped off from your childhood. You are all brainwashed.

    Reply
  61. Carlotta

    Do any of you cross border shoppers factor in the amount of extra time it takes to shop in the US? Do you factor in the amount of gas you use driving there? And the fact that, since you have turned a quick trip to the grocery store into a much longer trip, you probably stop and eat at a restaurant for lunch or dinner or both. Now add all of that to your excursion and tell me you really saved money.
    I read that someone bought a t-shirt or 2 for $15 at JCPenny. Go to Giant Tiger and you can buy them even cheaper. And don’t compare a set of sheets from Target to a set of sheets at the Bay.
    And for all the people who say our extra taxes for healthcare arent worth it, you have never had to make the choice as to whether or not you can afford the $22,000 for surgery for your child….. surgery or your house… you choose.
    And $1.99/lb for chicken breasts? They were on sale at my local grocery store last week for $4.25/kg. That’s even cheaper.
    And now for the biggest reason to shop locally? Who sponsors the hockey team your kid plays on? How about the soccer or baseball teams your kids play for? Who sponsors your bowling league, gives door prizes to every comunity group that asks? Who hires your kids for summer jobs? When someone in your community needs help and they hold a fundraiser for them, who supports it? Maybe you can go across the border and ask Target to give you money for all of these things? Or JCPenny? But no… you will all go to the local businesses and ask them. A little hypocritical wouldn’t you say? I’ll TAKE your money, but I won’t spend any at your store.

    Reply
  62. nick

    Business have had about 3 years to adjust prices , why bother? Canadians are fools and will pay the difference and agree with it.
    Who says our health care system is free, YEAH,RIGHT- I wonder why most provinces have 1/3 rd or more of taxes going to health care!!!!!!!!!!It is not just the sales tax going to Health care.
    What does high Canadian prices have to do with our health care. NOTHING!!!! Business is not paying our health care costs. Our Business taxes have been lowered so much over the last 10 years that we are even or lower then US business taxes.Most big canadian companies pay no or almost no taxes. For all of those who talk about sponsoring events—yankee businesses and their rich sponsor more in proportion then our businesses and rich so that means that is not an extra benefit that canadian companies give us. Also a lot of the businesses that are helping out canadian charities in Canada are american owned not canadian. Do you wonder why our milk products and poultry are so much more expensive-hint marketing boards that WE pay for,they have a monoply. Why do we have the highest or near the highest cellphone , internet rates–it is not taxes but a cosy relationship between our super rich and government regulations.Productivity is lower on Canada because OUR companies do not invest enough in research, development and tooling upgrades. Our mininimum may wage may be higher but the REAL lower wages are higher in the US vs Canada. Lastly why is it that a car MADE in canada sells for a lower price in the US compared with the same auto in Canada before any taxes are added.

    Reply
  63. Mandolin

    I have to reply to Laura…..all the people that shop in the US would likely consider shopping for doctors in the US.

    Personally, I have gone to the US for medical care when the wait was ridiculous and yes I paid out of pocket with no insurance. It depends on the medical conditions, the costs, and the wait times. I don’t mind shopping south or using services south of the boarder. I still prefer canada and Quebec but not for some chronic medical conditions, not for family or pediatric doctor appointments. My 2 year old is still on a wait list for a pediatrician in Montreal….ridiculous she’s two.

    I don’t shop only where my dollar is better either. I judge on my priorities (healthy local fresh food and medical care I would pay more for and buy locally when its available) t-shirts, folding chairs, and flights I would buy south of the boarder. Its either that or don’t travel period. I can’t afford to fly out of montreal to see family…each flight costs 700-1000 per person for me to fly to my birth city (a major city in Ohio). It costs me 240 dollars per person to go to an airport as close to my house. I don’t feel bad about it. I am getting taxed to my eye balls. Air Canada keep your flights.

    Reply
  64. Andrea

    Mandolin: I don’t know if you are aware, but St-Mary’s has a Family Medicine clinic – I used to go there. They are a great team. You have the same resident generally for two years before the new ones start. The benefit is that the residents are often about to start their own practices…try giving them a call! And if you have any orthopedic concerns, you can always call the Shriners – only one in Canada!!

    Reply
  65. temp41

    Recent message in a Canadian political ad : “You don’t want American style health care!”
    Translation : Keep government as your only health insurance choice.

    Recent message in an American political ad : “You don’t want Canadian style heath care!”.
    Translation : Anything but government run health insurance.

    Reply
  66. Orbital

    The ignorance in this thread disgusts me. Educate yourselves about the economy, the financial system and government before you post crying about Canada. If you do not want to educate yourself, then go over there. Then you can cry about all the problems in that country and cry how Canadians have it so much better.

    Reply
  67. another anonymous

    Please refrain from purchasing items made in India and China.Please spend the time to invest in the best quality you can save up money to purchase.Please stop purchasing inferior items, spend a bit of time researching what level of quality is available

    Reply
  68. jroc

    I wish people would stop saying “If you think you Canadians have it bad, the U.K. has it blah blah” who the hell is talking about the U.K. we are comparing the US to Canada our neighbors…and we do have it bad. And the funny thing is it is are fault, for example in Ontario who did “we” just vote in..HST,eco tax etc Mr. Dalton Mcguinty. All of these tax increases, you guessed it forces retailers to increase there prices which inturn means because I feel like I have to spell it out, takes more out of are pockets… so because of [it seems like the majority of Ontarians} people who believe in the factless PROOF of what Al Gore and are own nut David Susuki say we pay more and more because everything they talk about somehow increases spending by government which again means more money out of my pocket. So Canadians, Ontarians “we” {you) have nobody to blame but Our(your)selfs.
    Its only going to get worse and there is no good forseeable news on the horizon.
    Ir shows you how ignorant Canadians are when you see a poll that says Canadians prefer Obama over are own.

    Reply
  69. Motor Club of America

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