Healthcare in Canada is a complex, diffuse and decentralized arrangement of actors and services.
Although we sometimes speak of the ‘Canadian healthcare system’, there is no single, national
health system. Rather, there are 14 single-payer, universal and public systems—10 provinces, three
northern territories and the federal government—which deliver primary and supplementary health
services to select populations, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, federal police,
veterans, military personnel and inmates in federal prisons. Collectively, we refer to these systems as ‘medicare,’ each of which grants access to doctors and hospitals, paid for by governments through Canadian tax contributions.
The 1984 Canada Health Act (CHA) sets out the primary objective of healthcare: “to protect, promote
and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada and to facilitate reasonable
access to health services without financial or other barriers” (Government of Canada, 1984).
Provinces and territories must adhere to the CHA or risk losing federal transfers. The CHA outlines standards for core services through its five principles:
public, non-profit administration (although facilities and services are not necessarily publicly
owned and offered)
comprehensive coverage (of the physician, hospital and dental services that are deemed
universality (everyone is covered and receives the same standards of care)
portability (everyone is covered wherever they go in the country), and
accessibility (or free at the point of delivery without co-payments, deductibles or annual
Essentially, medicare provides universal coverage for medically necessary hospital and physician
services provided on the basis of need, rather than ability to pay.
Understanding healthcare in Canada, and more specifically, understanding how we can improve healthcare, is becoming more and more important as Canada has an aging population with more Canadians living longer. The first wave of baby boomers turned 65 in 2011, representing about 15 per cent of the population. When the last of the baby boomers reach 65 by 2031 they’ll make up close to 25 per cent of Canadians. The population of seniors will double between 2009 and 2036 from about 5 million to more than 10 million.
With a growing and aging population, the list of issues will continue to grow. In a recent article in Huffpost Canada, the Canadian Institute of Healthcare Information’s (CIHI) explains that Canada’s health-care system is failing to deliver timely care to patients.
The full article can be read here: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/bacchus-barua-/canada-health-care_b_9646872.html