Wednesday, August 3, 2016

We moved to Canada nearly 6 years ago. Are we happy we moved?

I see my blog is still being read, so I thought I would post an update.

When we first moved to Canada the boys had left all their friends in Florida and were very unhappy with the move. I still have an image of eldest boy sitting in the car on the trip here, arms crossed, and saying “I don’t see why we have to leave Florida”.

When they first started school in Ontario it was sad to see them standing at the bus stop, off to the side a little bit away from the group. New kids, you see. They soon made many good friends and are very happy and settled here. They have no interest in returning to Florida.

The education system in Ontario is excellent and they did very well here. Older 2 boys are now in University, and youngest boy starts this fall.  All are in Ontario universities.

Other Canadians wonder why I left Florida to return to a place that has winter. My reply, I have many good friends still in Florida. I go visit them in the winter and we all enjoy the beach, but I don’t have to deal with the problems residents of Florida face.

·         I don’t have to worry about hurricanes;

·         Home insurance rates going from $850 to $3,600 the following year (the rate increase we received on our house one year);

·         My home insurance being cancelled by an insurer of last resort due to some ridiculous reason;

·         I don’t have to fight the school system to get my kids a decent education;

·         Gun violence;

·         Health insurance, just to name a few reasons.

Americans often wonder what our “socialized” medicine is like here. Well, we don’t think of it as “socialism” but “universal”.

Health care in Ontario has been excellent! 

Ohio born hubby loves it here, except for winter. He’s from southern Ohio, and thought the snow would come, then melt, and then snow again, ha ha!  I guess that’s a sort of light winter.  His first winter here he was surprised that, not only did the snow not melt, but when people shoveled their driveways the shoveled snow was piled up beside the driveway. If the snow piled up too much, sometimes it would be trucked out of the city.

Well, this is Canada, I reminded him.

It’s been a good move for us.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The New Non-US Citizen Driver Licence

All non-US citizens, including legal immigrants with a Green Card, will be branded as a non-US resident on the new North Carolina driver licence. Read more here.  Not content to merely point out non-US citizens by issuing a vertical type licence with a pink colour instead of blue, it is watermarked with the words "DEFERRED ACTION", contains the phrase "LIMITED TERM" in red on the right, and "NO LAWFUL STATUS" in red at the bottom. 

How would this work for any non-US citizen with legal status attempting to gain employment, buy a home, fly, attend university, not to mention if they are pulled over by the police who are now “immigration agents” who are required to detain and report to ICE those without lawful status pending being sent to an "Immigration Detention Center".

Legal immigrants are usually not under threat of deportation, so the words DEFERRED ACTION are an insult. They do have LAWFUL STATUS, so the phrase NO LAWFUL STATUS, together with LIMITED TERM are not only incorrect, but will make their lives especially hard.  

While many states, including Florida, are usually branded in some way to show who is a US citizen, and who is not, this is the most outrageous and unwelcoming style of driver licence yet.  I'm sure many states will like it and follow suit. 

This will contribute to the sense of disconnect immigrants are feeling with the rest of American society, and a  contributing factor to the reverse brain drain.  Talented immigrants who start businesses and provide jobs for Americans are leaving in large numbers for their home countries.  Some Americans are short-sighted enough to think this is a good thing.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I’ve been suspended from driving in Florida – again!

I’ve been suspended from driving in Florida, for the second time. 


No, I haven’t broken any laws.  My crime – I’m a Canadian citizen!  Oh wait, it get’s better.

My American born husband is now suspended from driving in Florida because – He lives in Canada and has an Ontario driver licence.

Apparently, Florida law enforcement are unable to understand non-American issued driver licenses.  The last time I checked, Ontario driver licenses were in English, as are British, Australia, etc etc.

In order to drive in Florida, we have to shell out $40.00 plus tax for each member of our family who wishes to drive.  ($25.00 for a Canadian issued International Driving Permit, plus $15.00 for passport photos) .  Question, if you cannot understand a Canadian issued provincial driving licence in English, how can you understand a Canadian issued International driving permit, in English.  The last time I checked, international driving licences were not standard.  Each country issues a different style international driving permit.  Oh you need it translated into English, jeesh, now I get it!

There are 3 reasons this law was passed.

1.       You could say this is just a money grab by the state of Florida, but I’m not so sure.  This law quietly went into effect in January 1st, and no one noticed until a British journalist spotted it this week.  If it was a money grab, it would have been promoted to ensure that everybody paid.  Better still, the money for international driving permits is collected by the home countries, NOT the State of Florida. Florida gets zip.  So – is it a money grab – NO!

2.       To keep the roads of Florida safe.  How many tourists are paying black market prices to forge a foreign driving license and then travelling to Florida to use it?  Probably none!

3.       Door number 3.  Ding Ding Ding!  The real reason for this is the State of Florida is now totally xenophobic.   This is designed to stop illegal immigrants from driving in Florida.  International driving licences are only available to people who are travelling, those who are living in Florida (as I found out the first time I was suspended from driving in Florida).  You cannot obtain an international driving licence if you do not reside in your country of origin.

Oh, and the snowbirds who are already in Florida for the season – no one bothered to mention to them that their Canadian licenses are no good – and they need to be in Canada to apply for an international driving permit – so they are all driving without valid licenses in the State of Florida this year.   

One more interesting point. Their insurance will be invalid if they get into an accident.

Checkmate! – we now have more unlicensed (and uninsured) drivers on the road in Florida than ever before.   

Florida doesn’t rely on tourism, does it?  I hope not, because Canadians and British are angry, and are cancelling their plans to travel to Florida this year.  

Friday, March 30, 2012

American penny opponents point to Canada as a coin-eliminating ‘trail-blazer’

"WASHINGTON—News that Canada is doing away with the penny has renewed debate in the United States about whether it’s time to rid itself, too, of a piece of currency once described by an esteemed American publication as “horrid and useless.”

Canada came in for high praise Friday from a U.S. advocacy group called Citizens for Retiring the Penny, with its motto “Isn’t it annoying?”

“If Canada can do it, why can’t we?” asked Aaron R. Priven on the group’s Facebook page.

“Bravo!” added another. “Canada has done the right thing. Hopefully the U.S. will soon follow.”
The idea of eliminating the penny, stamped with the noble profile of revered former president Abraham Lincoln, has been a topic of debate for years in the United States, where it costs 2.4 cents to produce the coin.

Why do pennies exist?” writer David Owen asked in a New Yorker piece in 2008 that called for the coin’s elimination and lauded Canada for taking a modern approach to eliminating bothersome pieces of currency, including one- and two-dollar bills.

On Friday, he had nothing but praise for Canada for once again taking the leap.

“Canada is and has been a trail-blazer, and was out early on a number of fronts, including eliminating the one-dollar bill, switching to different, cheaper metals — things that Americans have been reluctant to do,” Owen said in an interview.

“I don’t know if Americans will ever come around on it. There’s a sentimental attachment to the penny .... We probably won’t be done with them until we’re done using cash in general, when people start using their phones to pay for things.”

The Obama administration has toyed with the idea of using cheaper materials to make both the penny and the nickel. Currently, the penny is composed chiefly of zinc with a thin copper coating.

Barack Obama went much further when he was campaigning for president four years ago.
We have been trying to eliminate the penny for quite some time — it always comes back,” Obama said. “I need to find out who is lobbying to keep the penny.”

The debate even earned its way into an episode of the political TV drama “The West Wing” in 2001, when Sam Seaborn, the character played by Rob Lowe, took up the cause.  The only coin-operated machines that accept pennies anymore, Seaborn said, are “those coin-wrapping machines people buy to get rid of pennies.”

But in a country with a passion for its historical artifacts, eliminating the coins outright is considered a political hot potato.

Two separate bills calling for the demise of the penny, tabled in 2002 and 2006 by Republican congressman Jim Kolbe, failed to advance in the House of Representatives.

The American zinc lobby has been a major opponent to any suggestions that the penny be eliminated, just as nickel lobbyists have fought efforts by the U.S. Treasury for years to remove nickel from the nickel. Another advocacy group, this one called Americans for Common Cents, passionately defends the penny.

“Eliminating the penny is a losing proposition because it will result in rounding to the nearest nickel and higher prices for America’s working families,” a statement on the group’s website reads.

“This increased cost to consumers will be felt in everything from the grocery store to the gas pump. Pennies add up to millions of dollars every year for charities across the country. Simply put, the penny plays an important role in our everyday lives and in our nation’s economy.”
Owen scoffed at one of those arguments.

“This idea that you’ll be ripped off by merchants somehow, that they’ll charge a few cents more without the penny — it’s not the case. Most merchants are happy to round in your favour; they just don’t want to deal with the penny anymore.”

But he acknowledges Americans have diehard attachments to pieces of currency other countries have long since done away with, noting the lack of love given to the America’s version of the loonie.

“One problem here, in addition to the fact that some Americans think dollar coins are a Commie plot, is that they’re so close in size to quarters. So they’re not widely in circulation, and when people get them, they tend to hold onto them as though they’re collectors items,” he said.

“There just doesn’t seem to be a rational response to currency changes in this country like you see in other places.”

Per Toronto Star

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

In Canada We Take Care Of Our Sluts

“In 1892, a federal law was passed into the Criminal Code making it illegal to sell or advertise birth control in Canada, even though many women at the time were risking their physical and mental health because of almost annual pregnancies. Dangerous backstreet abortions were commonplace.

Elizabeth Bagshaw, one of Canada’s first female doctors, championed the notion that women should have the right to prevent pregnancy. She established Canada’s first family planning clinic in Hamilton, Ontario in 1932, although it was illegal to do so and despite intense criticism from the medical and religious communities.

50 years ago contraception was fully legalized in Canada.

“Today in Canada, thanks to a public health care system, any woman can access birth control pills through a prescription from their nurse or doctor. The cost is low ($25-$30/month), and many corporate insurance plans will cover the majority, if not all, of that cost.” See "In Canada We Take Care Of Our Sluts".

In the US recently a Georgetown student (Sandra Fluke) attempted to explain to a congressional panel why birth control should be covered by health insurance and/or affordable. In a country where free speech is constitutionally protected, she was initially barred from the (all male) Republican controlled panel.

Rush Limbaugh, the extreme right wing radio host, must think we still live in the 1950s. He called women who use birth control “sluts”. He said that if women want contraception covered by health insurance, then everyone is paying for her contraception, so she is being paid to have sex. If she is being paid to have sex then she is a slut. So, a women is a slut because she wants to take good care of her health. Simply neanderthal thought process here.

What is a man called who uses Viagra if said prescription is covered through his health insurance plan?

Not all women use birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. Sometimes there is another medical reason. Sandra Fluke has a friend who suffers from painful uterine cysts and she cannot afford the birth control pills that would ease her suffering.

"Republicans are attempting to interfere with a woman’s right to prevent pregnancy and take care of their health". Making contraception unavailable or unaffordable will jeopardize woman’s health and result in more abortions. Surely contraception is a better alternative to abortion.

"Access to birth control and contraception is about public health. Public health policy is only effective when we have the freedom to make healthy choices, and affordable access to medication and health care".

Canadian women take for granted the freedom to make these healthy choices. Women in the United States do not have that freedom.

This is a giant step backwards for the US.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Vacate Premises Before The Target People Showup

Ok, I just couldn’t resist this.

Zellers is Canada’s second largest chain of discount stores. Zellers was founded in 1931 for “thrifty Canadians”. They used to be good stores when I was a kid, but somehow they didn’t keep up with the times and are extremely dated now. Target is taking over several Zellers’ sites and converting them to Target stores.

Zellers stores are still open, but will begin closing in this Spring for their one year makeover into Target stores.

Zellers. Where the lowest price is the law, as is vacating the premises before the Target people show up.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Teenager Shot In Church Dies

19 year old Hannah Kelley.

Americans love their guns, there’s no doubt about that. It’s something I don’t understand. Americans who are in favour of guns say that they keep you safe, but I keep hearing about people who have been accidentally shot, or someone unhinged “going postal”.

This latest tragedy takes place in St. Petersburg, Florida. Investigators have said that on February 12th Moises Zambrana was showing his gun in a small closet to another church member interested in buying a firearm, when it accidentally went off and 19 year old Hannah was shot in the head. She died yesterday at Bayfront Medical Center. Very sad. Read more here.....

Read my other postings on gun violence here and here.