International perspective on education and health care in Nova Scotia


To the Editor:

I was a teacher for 32 years and more recently, for 10 years, a retired board director and consultant with the Nova Scotia International Student Program (NSISP). I have travelled to dozens of countries where I have visited and examined many school systems. Essentially, my job was to convince parents to send their young children to study in Nova Scotia for five or 10 months, to improve their English language skills and to experience the “East Coast lifestyle” we are privileged to enjoy.

The students who come here are awed by what our public school system can offer and their agents who visit from around the world are astonished at our public facilities, staff and administrative training levels, competency, professionalism and teacher dedication to their jobs. It is no wonder the NSISP has become very successful as a national leader in this field, and Canada is the top destination for international high school students in the world. If I had to ask you where you would prefer to have your child educated, try to find a better place. Our system is not perfect, but on a world comparison, Canada provides the highest ranked English-based high school education in the world. British, Australian and American schools, (where they are still fighting about transgendered bathroom access) don’t compare. In most countries in the world one can find an excellent level of education in a small number of elite private schools. In Canada, we do this with 97 per cent of our children in public schools.

Unfortunately, just prior to Christmas last year I was in Spain when I suffered a serious medical setback. Thankfully, my Spanish contacts directed me to a university teaching hospital in Madrid where the standard of care was similar to what is provided here at home. I was lucky. There are many countries in the world where you would NOT like to be ill.

After 13 days there I was declared fit to travel home. My treatment resumed in Nova Scotia and following a barrage of tests and professional evaluations, I had surgery and should fully recover. My eight weeks in the Victoria General Hospital gave me great insight into our health care system, a system that I had barely previously experienced. The levels of competency, professionalism and ability were impressive, from the doctors (too numerous to mention by name) to the nursing staff and home care with the VON. I would like to personally thank the urologists, radiologists, oncologists, general, and thoracic surgeons for their care, thorough diagnosis and professional expertise in their respective fields. Their abilities are world class! Yes, our health care system is not perfect, but if you were forced to choose, where would you prefer to be treated? It is never great to be sick, but what we have here is a great place to be sick if you have to be.

We should always strive for improvement, and it is important to critically analyze what we have. However, in our quest to be critical, we cannot forget what we have here in little old Nova Scotia is one of the finest education and health care systems in the world. Wanting better, and being proud of what we have, are not mutually exclusive. I, for one, am exceptionally proud of this province we call home. Try to see it through the eyes of someone who is not from here and you will too.

Allan B. MacDonald (formerly from Port Hawkesbury)

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