Editorial: The best Canada has to offer

The best Canada has to offer

Todd Korol/Reuters

It’s become something of a tradition at Maclean’s to blow our national horn in our annual Canada Day double issue.

This year is no exception, of course, with our cover story listing 99 ways we out-do our American neighbours. (See “99 reasons why it’s better to be Canadian.”) We live longer, our banks are stronger, our schools better, our endangered species healthier, our tennis players more powerful, our tornadoes less frequent, our air cleaner and our country much more peaceful. (Not to mention more than half the players in the NHL are born here.) Our triumph over the Americans seems so complete that perhaps we need to find another competitor. How about ourselves?

In fact, the past month offers ample evidence of the many ways in which Canadians are improving themselves right now—and in ways that really matter.

The Canadian Community Health Survey is an annual checkup on the health habits of our nation involving interviews with 65,000 Canadians coast to coast. The latest report, released last month, is all-around good news: We’re cutting back on bad habits, getting more exercise and feeling less stressed.

The percentage of Canadians reporting that most days are “quite a bit or extremely stressful” dropped to 22.7 per cent last year—nearly a full percentage point decline from the year previous. This may be due to the fact that Canadians are listening to advice about getting more active. Between 2010 and 2012, a lot more Canadians reported being “moderately active” on a daily or weekly basis: It now stands at 53.9 per cent. Walking was the most popular activity, followed by gardening, home exercise and jogging.

At the same time, heavy drinking was down significantly over the past year (from 19.0 per cent to 17.2 per cent). Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke are also down from previous years.

Perhaps the best news of all is that obesity rates among Canadians adults have stabilized. While roughly 4.7 million adults are classified as obese, this figure has remained “relatively stable” since 2009, despite plenty of talk of a growing epidemic of fatness.

What else do we have to be thankful for? Among the most vexing problems in the world right now is youth unemployment. More than half of all youth in Spain and Greece, for example, are out of work—a situation that threatens to create a permanent lost generation. And while unemployment among youth (aged 15 to 24) is still a major concern in Canada, the scale of the problem here is dramatically different.

According to Statistics Canada, our youth unemployment rate is over 14 per cent, or more than twice the adult rate. The good news, however, is that unemployment tends to be shorter in duration for young workers and they’re also much more likely to find a new job. Other good news from the younger generation: Figures from Canadian youth court (ages 12 to 17) reveal a 10 per cent drop in completed cases nationwide in 2012, as compared to the year previous. These figures are the lowest in 20 years and parallel an overall decline in reported youth crime, as well. Our health is improving. Our work force is in better shape than most other countries. And our youth are staying out of trouble. Sounds like another good year for Canada.

Here at Maclean’s, we’re also working hard to improve. Over the past year, we’ve greatly increased the variety of what we do, with new formats, styles and products for readers.

For decades, the Maclean’s Universities Guidebook has been the authoritative Canadian resource on universities for prospective students and their parents. But we’ve made huge additions to our selection of newsstand specials. Already this year, we’ve produced the stunning Wine in Canada, 100 Ideas, Inventions & Discoveries That Will Change the World, Maclean’s Book of Lists, Vol. 2 and Maclean’s Portraits—famous faces from politics, arts, sports and science drawn from our archives and photographed by the likes of Yousuf Karsh, Peter Bregg and George Pimentel. Coming soon: and The New Brain.

We’ve also broadened our selection of eBooks and added more big reads to the magazine. The Maclean’s growing ebook library now includes titles on everyone from Justin Trudeau to Chris Hadfield, and topics as diverse as the mall collapse in Elliot Lake, Ont., and the Shafia honour-killing trial. Most recently, we’ve published a collection of stories chronicling Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s rise and fall, available on Amazon, Kobo, and in the iBooks store.

Big reads—stories of 8,000 words or more—have become a rarity in print journalism these days. But Maclean’s still delivers this sort of time-consuming investigative work on a regular basis. In our latest issue, senior writer Michael Friscolanti takes a close look at Elliot Lake one year after the mall disaster. Previous big reads over the past year have included a look at the Church of Scientology in Canada and the death of a Canadian climber on Mount Everest, as well as the definitive political biography of Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair. In the coming months, we’ll have more, on everything from international politics to environmental crime.

Our efforts across different platforms and formats were also recognized recently by our peers at the National Magazine Awards, with Maclean’s writers and bloggers taking home two golds and two silvers.

However you want to read, consume or experience it, Maclean’s is pleased to deliver the best Canada has to offer.

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