26 January 2009

BC vs. Saskatchewan

If you've looked at my profile or happen to know me, you'll know I live in BC. I'm originally from Saskatchewan though. Two quite different worlds, I must say (*ahem* Quebec, you so don't have a monopoly on a distinct culture in this country!)

It's truly strange. Saskatchewan is a bastion of social conservatism, but it's the birthplace of universal healthcare, farmers' co-ops and a number of other quite progressive ideals. Seniors only pay $10 for prescriptions (if they're under a certain income - more on the stupidity of that change some other time). Chiropractors are subsidized. Women's centres are funded quite well (comparatively). It's pretty cool in some ways.

Here in BC, we pay a monthly fee for our medical care, and it ain't cheap. $130something for my family (not sure exactly because it comes off my husband's cheque). That doesn't cover any chiropractic treatments, any physical therapy, any psychologists, or medications. Pharmacare is an utter joke. I refuse to even sign up for it. Campbell cut tons of funding to women's centres and shelters, homeless shelters, welfare, legal aid, special needs in the classroom, etc. It's insane.

On the other hand, it's not nearly as safe to be gay in Saskatchewan as it is in BC. I regularly see gay couples in Victoria walking down the street hand in hand. My daughter's middle school has a Gay Pride Day. I cannot imagine such tolerance in Regina. I can't compare small town BC to small town Saskatchewan, having never lived in a small town in BC, but I do know that being gay (and out) in a number of small towns in Saskatchewan is far less than safe.

And marijuana. There is a *huge* difference in the way pot is treated here and the way it is back in Regina. Oh my. I was shocked to see people smoking weed openly here. Pleased, mind you, as I had severe, chronic pain, but still shocked. Cops catch you with pot here, and they'll just take it, and laugh at you for getting caught (just try getting a bottle of wine on a bus on Canada Day though!). It sure wasn't that way 10 years ago in Regina. Maybe things have changed, I don't know. None of my friends there are smokers. Or at least none admit to it. Maybe I'll ask them how many grams are in an ounce. Only pot smokers know the answer to that question. :)

I find the dichotomy quite interesting. I like the more socialist economics of Saskatchewan far better than Campbell's bullshit, but I like the social freedom here better. I long for a place with both, but can't afford to move to Holland right now.