Social Issues in Canada - Health Care, Homosexuality, Drugs & Abortion

Tue, 05/27/2014 - 23:28 -- Umar Farooq

There are variety of social issues in the world and same is the case with the Canada. From past few years, the most alarming social issues in Canada today are the country’s social laws & policies. Laws and regulations that govern how Canadians citizens can live their lives, and what kind of government-guaranteed perks and benefits they enjoy, are among the top priorities of government.

This is the era in which Canadians Government focuses a lot on how their country is different from the US. Social policies of Canada are most important features that make Canada a unique and progressive country. Following are details about some alarming List of Social Issues in Canada on which Canadian government focusing a lot.

Health Care

Health care is the first social issue in Canada so the Canadian health care system frequently seems at the top of the social issues list.  In earlier 1960s, the Canadian government began a gradual process of phasing out most private, health insurance companies, clinics and hospitals into a new, universal, publicly-funded health care regime. Now a day, through public health coverage plans which are started by the various provincial governments (with some funding help from Ottawa) all Canadians citizens are automatically provided comprehensive health insurance. After implementation of these plans by provincial governments now Canadians have no need to pay out of pocket for their medical procedures or they don’t have to rely on their employers for health insurance. The provincial government of Canada bears the majority of the expanses for all check-ups, exams and surgeries, and only charges very small monthly premiums (usually $100 or less) in exchange.

This Canadian health care system is considered the most generous as well as most expensive in the world. Recently, provincial governments have been forced to think about their scope of coverage in order to make the program more sustainable, government now decided that many Canadians must now buy supplementary private health insurance to pay for things like eye exams, dentist trips and any surgery which government considers as “non-essential.”

Similarly, Canadian government hospitals are much more overcrowded due to their ease of accessibility, and Canadians usually have to wait for months to visit a specialist or to access high-demand services like MRI machines. So the guarantee of the long-term “survival” of the Canadian health care regime is no doubt among the burning social issues in Canadian politics.


Before 1969 Canada considered the most pro-life (supporting life) country on the face of globe. But in the last two decades, Canada has swing wildly from being one of most pro-life countries to pro-choice (support legal right of woman’s for abortion). As Canada is a nation with large Catholic masses, any sort of abortions were banned completely before 1969, and after that abortion were only permitted under exceptional conditions when the mother’s life proved to be in danger.

Illegal abortions remains continued in the background, in 1988, a abortionist named Dr. Henry Morgentaler (1923-2013) went before the Canadian Supreme Court to face charges. The court ultimately declared that the country’s regulations about abortion force an unconstitutional burden on woman’s rights, and finally law was overturned.

Although the Canadian Supreme Court’s described some limits on abortion, but practically the Canadian government has never passed any. So, all Canadian women have a universal right for abortion at any period of pregnancy, even in the final weeks. This is a degree of liberalism largely unseen elsewhere in the whole western world which is considered the worse social issues in Canada.

Abortion has become very controversial social issues in Canada, and it is in the top of the list of those things to avoid discussing in “polite company.”

In all over the country there are many passionate pro-life and pro-choice activist groups, which often arrange aggressive demonstrations and protests in order to prove their opinions. Politicians from all Canadian parties have pro-life members, but still they are unsuccessful at making this social issue a mainstream topic of discussion. Only province of Prince Edward Island has been successful in imposing a complete ban on the abortion within its borders.

Drugs and Alcohol

Alcohol is considered the mother of all social ills and this is also associated with many other illegal activities. In Canada during the early 20th century most provinces imposed ban various times on the sale and production of alcohol in different ways. But this so-called prohibition era did not become the magical solution many had hoped for, however, by the 1920s, most provinces of Canada had changed their laws and regulations to re-allow the sale of alcohol, but there are still certain tight restorations on sales. For example in some provinces the liquor may only be sold by special government-run liquor stores, in others provinces the law may require hard alcohol and beer to be sold at different locations.

The legal drinking age in Canada is set by the provinces. In Manitoba, Alberta and Quebec the age is 18, and everywhere else it is 19. Most of country provinces also have strict laws against consuming alcohol in public places and imposed high charges on “driving while under the influence.”

Cigarettes are legal for Canadians citizens over 18 year, but recent government has begun to actively discourage their use, by banning smoking in public places and forcing cigarette manufactures companies to place massive, graphic warning labels on all packages.

Guns & Other Weapons

Canada is a country founded in wilderness traditions of hunting and trapping. The rate of gun ownership is historically high, particularly in rural communities of Canada. According to the statistic of Canadian National Firearms Association, there are almost 21 million guns in country owned by almost seven million people of the country, and many of them are professional hunters.

Gun control in Canada has proved a worse social issues in Canada today which divides the whole country in terms of rural-versus-urban areas. For those citizens who live in urban areas, guns tend to be associated with inner-city crime, like gangland murders, so ban on gun possession is usually high. While those people who live in rural parts of the Canada, usually associate guns with hunting, sport shooting and collecting, and gun ban rate is low there.


In Canada the citizen’s attitudes towards same-sex (homosexual) relationships have greatly liberalized over the last two decades. Beginning in 1969, most legal bans on sodomy were imposed, and even then, more and more Canadians have been comfortable living “out” lives as open homosexuals.

In 2005, after years of opposition from both major political parties of the Canada, same-sex marriage was legalized in country when the government of Paul Martin passed the Civil Marriage Act. According to this act marriage is simply a “lawful union of two persons.” This act was regularly opposed by many Christian groups and political conservatives, but the Conservative Party of Canada itself has long since abandoned its promise to reverse the legislation.


Prostitution is the worse social issues in the world. prostitutionPaying for sex is technically not illegal in Canada, but offering the sex service is illegal. This clearly means that Canadian law is biased against prostitutes, this situation has caused some controversy among the country’s growing “rights for sex workers” movement. From the legalization debate point of view, the Canadian current prostitution laws are exceedingly old in their language and scope, and it will possibly be revisited at some point in the coming future.


Gambling was first legalized in 1969, and there become a dramatic boom in Canada during the 1980s and 1990s. Now all provinces of Canada are home to a wide variety of legal games of chance, including casinos, slot machines, sports bookies, lottery tickets, animal racing tracks and more. In May 27, 2010, the province of British Columbia went even a step more ahead and became the first jurisdiction in North America to legalize online gambling. The point is that in all these cases, gambling services are government-run. If in Canada someone runs a private casino or betting house it remains illegal.

The Canadian Quebec's massive Casino de Montreal is considered one of the largest casinos in North America.

The Death Penalty

The Canadian government executed 810 convicted prisoners from 1859 to 1962, mostly by hanging. The death penalty was given to them for various crimes involving treason or murder. After many controversial cases, a freeze on further executions was imposed in 1966, this was more supported by the outright abolishment of the death penalty in 1976, by the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau (1919-2000).

In spite of being execution-free for more than 30 years, the public support for executing killers remains high in Canada, though no political party of Canada officially supports reversing the current ban.

Animal Rights

Though pet ownership like cats and dogs is common in Canada, but pet owners are often discriminated. Many public buildings, including park and apartments, forbid animals and in many parts of the country the types and breeds of pet animals are allowed to own is limited by law. So the physical abuse of animals remains a crime in country.