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The Greatest 21st Century Challenges For Canada

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A single country faces many challenges in the wake of trying to establish or maintain international and internal peace and popularity. These challenges determine the very economic, social, and international structure of the country. The decision made by a government on how to take on such challenges can either devastate or benefit a country and determine the continuity of a leader’s rule. One such country that faces many critical challenges in the wake of the 21st century is Canada as current issues have begun to grow and new issues have been shed into the light. The greatest challenges imposed upon Canada in the 21st century is Canada’s great economic and political dependence on its neighboring country the United States that which Canada has begun to fight against, the growing threat global warming poses on the environment that Canada can not seemingly stop, and Canada’s inefficient health care system for the growing elderly population that Canada is moving towards reforming.

Canada’s dependence on the U.S putting the country at risk of it being influenced by the superpower has always been a concern of Canada since the two countries first began cooperating together. Canada has always had to step lightly around Its large neighboring state the U.S, this relation was best illustrated by Pierre Trudeau in 1969 as Prime Minister of Canada:

Let me say that it should not be surprising if these policies in many instances either affect or take into account the proximity of the United Sates. Living next to you is like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered the beast is, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.

Canada’s dependence on the U.S economically is one such factor that leaves Canada vulnerable to U.S influence and has become more prominent with the NAFTA reform. The very nature of international financial markets creates the economic pressures Canada feels from the U.S such as “when the U.S deregulated various transportation sectors, economic pressures mounted for Canada to do the Same (Stanbury 1988). These economic pressures to follow the U.S are one of Canada’s major challenges in the 21st century as Trump’s move to redefine NAFTO has forced Canada to suffer even greater dependence on the U.S economically.

The influence America has over Canada spreads further from the Canadian economy to Canada’s political climate. Unlike America’s effect on the Canadian economy, their influence is subtle and less aggressive “The mouse is not forced to react because of what the elephant is doing, but chooses to do so because it likes what the elephant is doing”. The 9/11 crisis in 2001 was one such event that illustrated Canada’s vulnerability to American political change. As the U.S hardened border security and added more trade security, Canada feared the loss of significant trade with America, and that the delays caused by the increased border security would cause investments in Canada and U.S to drop. As such this threatened the benefits of the free trade agreement and Canada took significant political steps to contour this “These included significant new investments by Canada in border security, and efforts to address US security concerns, starting with the December 2001 Canada–US Smart Border Declaration and Action Plan” (Crane 2005). This need to follow in America’s footsteps in political practices proves to be a major challenge for Canada in the 21st century as it leaves the country in constant fear of what the neighboring superpower will do and as American begins to institutionalize more independent policies leaving Canada to determine how to handle this new America. however, Canada has shown progression in this challenge by taking steps towards liberating itself from the U.S. Canada has begun to seek trade deals with countries such as Chine to lower their economic dependency on the U.S and create economic growth in many sectors but as Canada moves towards this goal America’s effect on Canadian politics is still prominent as America is pressuring Canada against going forward with these trade deals.

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The effect humanity has on the environment has become a growing concern for society as global warming continuously worsens, as such the global community has taken steps towards correcting these negative effects. However, global warming and fatal environmental impacts have become more prominent in countries and pose a great risk to their populations such as Canada, making it one of the greatest challenges Canada is facing in the 21st century. Much of Canada’s landscape being at risk of being destroyed by global warming is a major factor in this issue, as forest fires and other environmental disasters are becoming more prominent in provinces such as British Colombia. Forest fires have been a clear example of the destructive power climate has over Canada as “Canadians watched with horror as the immense Fort McMurray fire of 2016 threatened the city. The Fort Mac fire caused the evacuation of almost 90,000 people and quickly became the most expensive natural disaster in Canadian history, destroying 2400 buildings and causing about $10 billion in damage” (Climate Atlas). Although the Fort McMurray fire of 2016 may be assumed as an extreme example of forest fires, forest fires will grow in number and in size as illustrated by forest fire researcher Mike Flannigan who stated that more forest fires such as the Fort McMurray fire definitely expected for Canada. Thus, the increase in forest fires due to climate change proves to be a major challenge for Canada as “a team of researchers at the Canadian Forest Service analyzed the findings of almost 50 international studies on climate change and fire risk. They found that our future looks “smoky” because climate change will worsen” (Climate Atlas).

Air pollution has also become an environmental challenge for Canada as exposer to it has become a major health risk for Canadians. Air pollution’s negative effect on the Canadian populous not only increased the development of diseases such as asthma but has resulted in many Canadian deaths, “The Lancet report estimated that 7,142 deaths were attributable to air pollution, specifically particulate matter, in Canada in 2015. A November 2017 report from Health Canada put the annual figure a bit higher, at around 9,500.” (Young 2018). Due to air pollution’s mortality rate in Canada, it has become one of the major components of the environmental challenge Canada is facing in the 21st century. Although Canada has shown motivation towards improving its effect on the environment, climate change and the many causes of forest fires, such as lightning storms and dry air, leave Canada almost powerless in preventing further damage to their landscape. Similarly, Canada still remains one of the top greenhouse gases producers in the world, and “As Trump now ponders withdrawing from the Paris climate change agreement, Smith said fear of more coal has grown. Even though Canada isn’t going down that road, ‘pollution knows no boundaries.’ Toronto, which has finally started to see its air pollution levels go down, would get hit if there is suddenly a ramping-up of coal production in the Ohio Valley” (The Canadian Press 2017).

The structure of Canada’s health care system has developed into a major problem for Canada as its changing population is presenting new demands and the existing system is failing to effectively care for Canadian citizens. This challenge has proven to be one of the greatest Canada is currently facing in the 21st century as “Health care is a service industry that exists to meet the needs of patients. However, the system is still stuck in a model from the past, in which providers made the rules and controlled all decisions. As societies evolve, citizens increasingly demand transparency and participation in decision-making. They also expect the system to respect their values and preferences and to facilitate access to health care services. Patients don’t care about silos within the system; they want to have access to seamless services that meet their physical and emotional needs.” (Muzyka, D. Hodgson, G. Prada, G. 2012). As the elderly population of Canada continuously grows their health care system must deal with the challenge of supporting the populous while not being designed to deal with the medical needs associated with elderly people. Much of “our system is centered on acute care, with few pathways for the treatment of many chronic illnesses or for “normal” healthy aging. The result can become a series of episodic interventions – even in-patient admissions – when other, less expensive services could be more effective.” leaving much of our elderly population dissatisfied with Canada’s healthcare system and at risk of having their conditions worsened as they are improperly cared for (Villeneuve, M. 2011). Thus, Canada’s inability to support the medical needs of their growing elderly population due to the outdated healthcare system is a large component of why the need for a reworked healthcare system has become one of the most critical challenges in the 21st century for Canada.

The Canadian healthcare’s inability to properly care for Canada’s growing elderly population is not the only factor contributing to making healthcare one of Canada’s biggest concerns in the 21st century, another major component is the medical facilities’ inability to accommodate all patients often leaving them with extremely long wait times. The healthcare’s “Delayed diagnosis and treatment can be devastating for individuals, their families, their employers, and those who rely on them. The disease might advance, potentially affecting treatment and outcomes, sometimes to the extent that, in some cases, effective treatment is impossible. That deterioration can also lead to complications, putting patients’ lives and well-being in jeopardy.” resulting in the need for Canada to redesign the healthcare system (Globerman, S. 2013). The negative effect of wait times for medical treatment caused by the structure of Canada’s healthcare system has become a major component as to why they need for a better healthcare system has become such a major issue in Canada in the 21st century. Although Canada’s healthcare system is a critical challenge to Canada moving on in the 21st century the country has been the award of their healthcare’s need for reform for decades and “Health care remains a top priority for Canadians after decades of debate, significant increases in public funding, and intermittent attempts at reform by jurisdictions across the country. A recent survey, conducted by EKOS for The Conference Board of Canada, indicated that 90 percent of Canadians believe that health care should be the main priority for national decision-makers, ahead of other important issues such as the economy and the environment.” (Muzyka, D. Hodgson, G. Prada, G. 2012). As such Canada has prepared plans to introduce new reforms to their healthcare system that better focuses on chronic diseases prevention and good end-of-life care for their growing elderly population, but still face the challenge of decreasing their wait times as many components of their system contribute to this fault.

Canada suffers from many challenges since the beginning of the 21st century, however, the most critical challenges are Canada’s great economic dependence on the neighboring superpower America, the growing threat global warming poses on the environment, and Canada’s inefficient health care system for the growing elderly population and general populous. Canada’s dependence on the U.S. is one of the most critical challenges for Canada as its economic and political structures are heavily affected by the actions taken by the U.S. on similar subjects. However, Canada stands ready to free itself from this dependence on America by establishing new trade deals with other countries such as Chine. Furthermore, the growing threat of global warming has proven to be one of the greatest challenges for Canada as the country fails to lower its pollution production resulting in an increase of diseases and deaths in its population, and the destructive effects forest fires have had on the Canadian landscape. As Canada stands it is not ready to face this environmental threat as much of it is not under the control of Canada and their neighboring country American moves to increase their use of coal energy that could worsen the air pollution of Canada. Similarly, Canada faces the major challenge of their health care system becoming inefficient as a growing elderly population remains unsatisfied and their citizens face worsening conditions as they remain untreated due to the health care system’s long wait times. However, Canadians have been concerned about their ineffective healthcare for decades and have prepared plans to better accommodate their growing elderly population.

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