Ontario is the province I choose to raise my family in, to build a business, to make my home. There was a time before we adopted our beautiful kids, when we were set to move to British Columbia. We priced it all out and were ready to go as a young married couple. But instead we stayed. There have been many occasions when I’ve contemplated moving to the United States and finding a way through that red tape so that I might work there. But still we stay. This Valentine’s Day, I wanted to take some time to reflect on why we live in Ontario. True, I was born here. I was raised in Guelph and I went to university in Toronto and Waterloo. So is it merely inertia? Is that why I stay? Those of you who know me well, know that winter is not my favourite. I occasionally might speculate why do I live here again? In Ontario? In Canada where the winters are brutal? Well, winter can occasionally be fun too, even though I might be chilly and sick with a good old fashioned winter cold, I am an Ontario girl at heart. And truthfully it takes me five seconds most days to remember why I live here. I am surrounded by the various reasons daily. Sometimes they are business related, and sometimes the reasons are simply the faces of my family. This Family Day weekend, as we also celebrate Valentine’s Day, this is my Ontario Valentine.
Dear Ontario: I heart you. These are the many reasons why.
1. Family: You are my home because you are the space I trust with my family. What could be bigger than that? What more could I possibly say? Family is the thing that matters most. It is my home, my heart, my present and future and I choose to keep that here. Thanks for cherishing that and understanding this is what matters. I love you even when you are minus 23 and my eyelashes are frozen from walking my kids to the bus stop one kilometre away. We are a little bit like an old married couple in some ways. I love to grumble occasionally about all the things that make me nuts and yet I am happy and privileged to kiss you good night each evening.
2. Health Care: The health care system is number two on this list. It is simply that important to me and my entire family. I know I have accessible, affordable health care in Canada, BUT I would argue it is more accessible in Ontario than in many other spaces. When my five year old broke her arm, we were the same day XRAYED, ASSESSED, Medicated and scheduled for surgery. Did I lose my job that week? No. Did I leave the hospital with a credit card debt big enough to give me an ulcer. No. I left with a prescription, a baby girl with a cast on her arm and a treatment plan for follow up. I have access here to some of the BEST specialists for my Crohn’s Disease (when I need them). I have ability to get my children the mental health supports they need here in Ontario because this is an investment that taxpayers value and government maintains. When we needed fertility consults, we got them. When we needed emergency care, we got it. It is a necessity for us. EVERYONE interacts with the health care system at one point or another in life.
3. Geography: Ontario is a gorgeous province. No question. From the beaches we need only hop in a car and drive to every summer, to the glorious ski hills and natural terrain up north. From the Great Lakes to the city scapes, Ontario is beautiful and sometimes breathtaking.
4. Ontario is diverse. Why do I care? Because I value differences and enjoy being culturally educated and surrounded by others with different abilities, strengths, cultural beliefs and traditions. I love being able to choose ten different cultural festivals in the summer in London, Ontario. It is brilliant and one of my favourite things about this particular city. It is a thing I cherish about my children’s schools. My kids are surrounded by many cultures, ethnicities and races. I love that. Ontario is a rainbow sometimes.
5. Ontario is safe: Recently a study indicated Toronto, Ontario was one of the safest cities in the world. London is safe, as is much of Canada. People want safe spaces to raise their families. More reasons to build and raise a family in Ontario.
6. Schools: Our schools are always improving. They are accessible. Ontario’s schools are some of the best globally. Our test scores are one of the highest in the world. BC. Alberta and Ontario all rank highly. That is of course important for me as a parent.
More reasons to raise family here #ohip4ivf #onpoli Education Provincial Rankings http://bit.ly/1zS8OuO
7. Jobs: Ontario’s economy may be evolving, but I believe it is a great province to work in. I started my business here and I continue to build it here. This is a province rich with education and opportunity. It is also a province that supports small business. Everyone has to get smarter at working with tax dollars and that’s economic reality, but our tax dollars continue to build great policies and support systems in the province. I believe strongly that my children’s ability to also study in French in Ontario schools builds future success.
8. Agriculture: Resources such as farms and farmers: I asked my 13-year-old to weigh in on a few of these questions and reasons we live in, and love Ontario because she is home today with an ear infection. She said, without hesitating – agriculture. We get fresh food easily from farms here and it comes straight to our table. I wouldn’t have thought of that one myself. This goes to point 6. Our kids are smart here. 😉
9. Compassion: This is another one my daughter added. We care in Ontario. We are a culture of caring about others from cradle to grave. All abilities, all ages, ethnicities and races. – We care. We build systems that care, we welcome others, we try to support seniors and give them lives with hope and dignity. We are ever conscious that we can always improve and I also believe we are always striving to do better. I personally would not do well in a province or country that didn’t value helping and building others up. Right now we are evolving with more long-term care facilities and more retirement homes. We are striving to meet the needs of an aging population. We are adding an IVF funding program for people struggling to conceive (this is also a demographic necessity I would argue based on the fact that 1 in 6 couples struggle with infertility.) A group I work with, named Conceivable Dreams has been advocating for this help. They have been telling their stories of why infertility health care is not accessible to so many. The Ontario government listened. Now patient members are helping on the advisory panel building the IVF (in vitro fertilization) funding program. That is compassion.
10: Children: I believe Ontario values family and children and supports healthy families because of all the reasons above. I think Ontario children are amazing assets. They are the future of the province. They will care for us and teach, and govern and build buildings, and businesses. Building healthy children and families is everyone’s business. I think this province has made a real commitment to families with funding programs that help such as the coming IVF program.
If you struggle with infertility follow Conceivable Dreams for support and education.
Happy Valentine’s day to everyone in Ontario!