Memo from Canada to US: Hey, Open Your Windows!

By   Shlomo Maital   

   I am currently at York University, Toronto, Canada, on a brief visit speaking for Technion Canada and assisting a colleague with an entrepreneurship program.

   I am deeply happy to be in the country of my birth, and not in the US. On entering Canada, at Pearson Airport, a huge sign reads: Canada Welcomes Everyone!   In contrast, US border officials recently hassled my wife, who is an American citizen (!), probably because we live in Israel.

   America has a friendly, liberal neighbor to the North. Canada has solved problems the US still struggles with. Yet – America’s windows to the north are dark and shuttered. Why?


     * Under Canada’s Live-In Caregiver Program, established in 1992, Philippine caregivers get six months of training in their home country, contract to care for Canadian elderly in their own homes, and in return, eventually get citizenship for themselves and their families. Our loved one had 17 years of loving expert care by Philippine caregivers 24/7, enabling her to live in dignity in her own home to the end.  In contrast, America’s eldercare system, or lack of one, is, according to MIT Professor Paul Osterman, “a train wreck”.

     * Under Canada’s nimble immigration system, 330,000 immigrants will be admitted in 2019! That would be equivalent to nearly 3 million immigrants, if the same proportion were admitted to the US. Disaster? Invasion? No. In Canada 60% of foreign nationals are ‘highly educated’, according to the OECD. Canada’s “Express Entry” system invites immigrants to become permanent residents weekly, as spots open up.

   Here at York U., I am privileged to observe a phenomenal program, led by my friend and colleague Prof. Andrew Maxwell, that leads 19 incredible Canadian teenagers through a startup boot-camp. Today and then again Friday, they will ‘pitch’ their startup ideas, tackling tough problems, in teams of 3 or 4.   Of the 19, I believe at least 14 are from immigrant backgrounds.  They won their place through a series of challenging competitions.

       It is no coincidence. Immigrants’ children are driven by high aspirations. I know. I am a child of immigrants, whose parents were welcomed by Canada and thus saved from a bitter end, later, in Europe.

      I wonder why America’s windows to the north are permanently shut.   In business, companies regularly do best-practice benchmarking, to find ways to do better. Why doesn’t the United States, led by a self-defined business tycoon, do the same? Forget the President — why don’t elected politicians open their windows and look North? They might learn a few things.  

       Canadians are regularly mocked in the US – our accents, our naivete…. Too bad, America. We have national health care, we look after our elderly, we have affordable college tuition, and we don’t have assault weapons in every closet.   Ever wonder why?