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LETTER: Our education and health care excel


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. My job was to convince parents to send their young children to study in Nova Scotia for five or ten months, to improve their English language skills, and to experience the "East Coast lifestyle."

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, competence, 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. 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 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 here at home. I was lucky. There are many countries 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 tests and professional evaluations, I had surgery and should fully recover. Eight weeks in the Victoria General Hospital gave me great insight into our health care system, a system I had barely previously experienced. The competence, professionalism and abilities were impressive, from the doctors to the nursing staff and home care with the VON. I would like to thank the specialists and surgeons for their care, thorough diagnosis, and professional expertise. 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

Halifax

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