“Covid 2022” — What America Could Learn From Canada

Barry Gander
3 min readDec 29, 2021


Illustration by Rose Wong

A decade ago, Canada had a pandemic scare that helped prepare it for today’s Coronavirus outbreak.

Canada was hit by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) — a cousin to the COVID-19 virus. It infected over 400 people, many in the media-sensitive Toronto area.

Public pressures from the SARS scare drove Canada to develop procedures and protocols for responding to pandemic situations. They relied on centralized public health defense and uniform disease monitoring that is very different than the scattered system in the United States. They also had free public health care.

Here’s how the Covid response is playing out today in the two countries:

· The U.S. is losing people at a rate that is proportionally three times faster than Canada — in fact, it is the world champion in Covid deaths at 854,000, about twice as many as India, which literally has a billion more people;

· In Canada, 90% of people over 12 have had at least one vaccination, compared to 74% in America;

· America has more than 2500 deaths per million people, versus 790 in their Northern neighbour; and

· Today, more than one hundred times more Americans are sick with Covid than are Canadians.

Is any of this due to fanatic Canadian discipline? Not really: Canadians are less inclined to wear face masks than Americans. Canadians might be social distancing more…it’s easy to figure out how far apart to stand if you’re measuring distance with a hockey stick. And Canadian politicians have largely put aside their differences to go after a ‘Team Canada’ solution. But Canada also has weaknesses: it has not been able to keep up with American logistics in the test-kit area: its only done about half the testing that America has done. So it’s not perfect.

Still, the Covid terror-train is crushing America harder on two tracks: numbers of deaths, and economic cost. The result of America’s disjointed Covid effort is that Canadians are not only far safer, but they have had to spend much less on Covid than Americans: 20% of Canadian GDP has gone into Covid stimulus packages…almost 10% less than America’s spending. And the economic support has been far higher in Canada.

So, with America poised to enter a New Year, what lessons can it take from its northern brethren?

  • Centralize the Covid response;
  • Mandate vaccinations; and
  • Provide public health care.

These measures are diametrically opposed to the disintegration that is happening in America today. The Biden government is letting state agencies dictate health policy, and the result is increasingly disjointed, weak and fragmented health care. Further, American needs to join the rest of the civilized world and get a modern taxpayer-based health care system. America’s health system currently exists for the profit of corporations, which is unbelievable to Canadians…literally, making money from the misery of fellow citizens.

George Washington’s army did a better job of supplying its soldiers with uniform healthcare than do Americans 250 years later. Washington would look around his namesake city today and go “WTF?”

In fact, the founding fathers of America had very little faith in the future of the structure that they erected. America has already done better than they thought, just by existing so long.

And today, while Canadians are horrified by what they see to their south, they have tremendous empathy for their American friends. To express grassroots support, private businesses in Canadian border cities have decorated the windows of office towers and hotels with lighted hearts, a symbol of hope.

The lights are pointed in the direction of the American border. They are a message of encouragement and a symbol of the goodwill that is strong in Canada. Support like this helps drive a remarkable factoid: for what it’s worth, polls show that Americans trust Canadians more than they trust their fellow citizens.

So listen to us: America has gotten through worse than this — we know, because we have been there for you.

We may be boring, but we’ve got your back.



Barry Gander

A Canadian from Connecticut: 2 strikes against me! I'm a top writer, looking for the Meaning under the headlines. Follow me on Mastodon @Barry