Canada's Health Care System: Poor Value
The beginning of May marks the end of income tax season in Canada. Over one-half of the personal income taxes Canadians just paid in aggregate are required to cover the cost of our taxpayerfunded health care program. Given this level of expenditure, you might expect that Canadians receive world-class access to health care. But the evidence demonstrates that this is not so.
Consider Canada’s waiting lists, which are among the longest in the developed world.
■ In 2007, waiting lists for access to health care in Canada reached a new all-time high of 18.3 weeks from general practitioner referral to treatment by a specialist. Despite substantial increases in both health spending and federal cash transfers to the provinces for health care over the last decade or so, this wait time is 54% longer than the overall median wait time of 11.9 weeks back in 1997.
■ Canadians were more likely to experience waiting times of more than six months for elective surgery than Australians, Germans, the Dutch, and New Zealanders, but slightly less likely than patients in the United Kingdom;
■ Canadians were least likely among the six nations to wait less than one month for elective surgery;
■ Canadians were most likely to wait six days or longer to see a doctor when ill, and were least likely among the six universal access nations surveyed to receive an appointment the same
day or the next day; and,
■ Canadians were least likely to wait less than one hour and most likely to wait two hours or more for access to an emergency room among the six universal access nations surveyed
That is hardly the sort of access you might expect from the developed world’s third most expensive universal access health insurance system.
~Nadeem Esmail of the Fraser Institute