Crosscountry: Canada at a glance — April 2015

Canada could make more efficient use of its two-tier healthcare system, states a new report. Plus, the owner of one of Canada’s largest classic car collection sells 100 of his treasures to a dealer in China.


Could our system stand a checkup?

Canadians should stop comparing their healthcare system with that of the US in order to give themselves a pat on the back. Instead, they should learn a thing or two from other countries that do a better job, says a recent C.D. Howe report.

While preserving the principles of universal coverage and quality of care that are so important to Canadians, countries such as the UK, Switzerland, Australia and the Netherlands get more bang for their healthcare buck, says the report.

These countries don’t rely on private coverage any more than Canada does. Private plans account for approximately one third (34%) of total payments versus 30% here. But while Canada offers good public coverage for hospitals and doctors, and much less for items such as outpatient drugs, they have a more balanced mix, with government plans paying for a larger share of drugs, dental and continuing care.


All shiny and old

All shiny and old 

In his car collection, arguably one of Canada’s best and largest, Jim Ratsoy has classic models dating back to the time when it was still hard to tell the difference between a car and a horse buggy. Now he is selling 100 of his gems to a car dealer in China, reports

As the owner of a General Motors dealership in BC, Ratsoy spent the past three decades putting together a collection of vehicles that spans nearly a century, from 1906 to 1991.  His oldest model is a 1906 Brush roadster with a one-cylinder engine.

Health issues now require him to liquidate. "I’ve had some negative comments about the sale," he told "But no one here stepped up and wanted to buy them. I have no second thoughts."


Are you a lazy thinker?

A phone 

People who grab their smartphones to answer any question that pops up might be less intelligent than others, according to a study from the University of Waterloo.

The study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, provides support for a link between heavy smartphone use and lowered intelligence. Users who turn to their device’s search engine "may look up information that they actually know or could easily learn, but are unwilling to make the effort to actually think about it," says Gordon Pennycook, co-lead author of the study. Whether smartphone use actually decreases intelligence is a question that "requires future research," he adds. But what is clear is that highly intelligent people tend to solve problems in more analytical and logical ways than their search-engine-seeking peers.


One step forward…

After 21 months of sustained growth, manufacturing is showing signs of sagging. According to RBC’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, the sector fell in February to its lowest level since the survey was launched in October 2010.

The survey notes that output, new orders and employment fell in February, while a weaker exchange rate led to input cost inflation and new export sales showed their steepest rate of decline in three years.

But all is not lost. "Over time, we expect the weaker Canadian dollar and stronger US economy to turn sentiment higher," said Craig Wright, senior RBC vice-president and chief economist.