A new ranking of the countries with the most health freedoms puts Canada third on its list.
International health insurance provider William Russell released a report after analyzing data and laws from several countries around the world.
Researchers assigned each country a score based on factors such as smoking and drinking age, age of consent, maternity leave, legality of cannabis use, laws on abortion and euthanasia law.
Switzerland came first with a score of 8.34 out of 10, followed by Luxembourg with a score of 7.83. Then came Canada with a bragging-worthy core of 7.60.
Our immediate neighbor, the United States, came last with an abysmal score of 2.88, making its health freedoms narrower than 49 other countries.
Here’s what some of the health freedom statistics look like in Canada:
Alcohol purchase age
All of Canada has 19 as the minimum age to purchase alcohol, except for three provinces – Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec – where it is 18.
Tobacco purchase age
Anyone 18 or older can buy cigarettes in Canada, except for a few provinces that require you to be at least 19 years old. In Prince Edward Island, the minimum age to purchase tobacco is 21 years old.
The use of cannabis is legal across Canada, both for recreational and medicinal purposes. The True North is one of three countries in the world to legalize recreational marijuana use at the federal level, alongside Mexico and South Africa.
Some other countries have decriminalized it, but not legalized it. Decriminalization means that possession of small amounts of the substance is legal and there are no fines or warnings. Legalization refers to a substance that is not subject to any criminal sanction. The regulations still apply.
Universal health care
Canada is known and envied for its universal health care, making it an ideal location for many budding immigrants. The healthcare system is funded by taxpayers and each territory also has a provincial healthcare system.
Legality of abortion
Canada is the only country in the world with absolutely no criminal restrictions on abortion – a stark contrast to the United States, where activists still fight for access to legal and safe abortion.
You do not need to state a reason for choosing abortion services in Canada, nor is there a pregnancy stage limit. Access to abortion services varies depending on where you are in the country. The processes vary between non-invasive and surgical.
Paid maternity leave
Canada offers 15 weeks of paid maternity leave, which is less than other countries.
In Estonia, the current length of paid maternity leave is 62 weeks. The United States, on the other hand, requires employers to approve 12 weeks of parental leave, but this is unpaid.
Choosing to end your life is legal in Canada. The federal Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) Act was passed in 2016. Over the years, the government has made it easier for people to apply and determine if they are eligible for the procedure. Last year, the eligibility requirements were further extended.
Between 2016 and 2021, 31,664 people died under the MAID Act.