How Canadians Really Feel About Their Health Care System ~ Should We Care?

Eighty-two percent of Canadians believe that their health care system is better than ours.


I watched President Obama’s primetime news conference last night (July 22, 2009) on reforming our health care system. After the conference, a political ad sponsored and paid for by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation was aired on the same network, CNN. The ad featured a Canadian woman who tells of having to come to the U.S. for an operation to save her life because of long wait times for surgical procedures in Canada. Oooooooo… scary — but one woman? Is she one of thousands last year who had to do the same — hundreds, or maybe just a dozen or so? And did she really have to come here for her operation?

The ad got me to wondering how Canadians really feel about the system that they’ve had in-place now for over fifty years. I also wondered whether the ad was being aired on the Fox network too or only on networks patronized by viewers having more moderate political persuasions.

I got up this morning and, over a cup of coffee, did a little research. I found an interesting article on the subject recently published by the Canadian Press. Read the article for yourself if you wish, but to summarize, Canadians think we would be wise to consider their system as we grapple with what to do about our own. A recent survey conducted by Harris/Decima group in Canada has found that 70 percent of Canadians think their system is working well or very well and that 82 percent believe their system is better than ours. The poll, taken by telephone of 1,000 Canadians, was conducted from June 4 to 8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

On the whole then, Canadians obviously feel pretty satisfied with their system, but should we care about how Canadians feel? Maybe… A little more research came up with the following video program produced by a San Diego television station (KPBS) in cooperation with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). The program compares our system with Canada’s. Draw your own conclusions.

The Canadian health-care system has been in the spotlight for weeks at congressional hearings, where it has alternately been characterized as the gold standard and a troubled system plagued with problems and delays. Obviously, neither our privatized system nor their single-payer system (Canadians don’t consider it to be “socialized” medicine) is perfect. But considering comparative costs and healthcare outcomes, I think the majority of Canadians are right about which system is better. Perhaps the President’s plan, a blending of the two, would offer the best of both worlds to Americans. After watching the embedded video, let me know what you think.

I invite your comments.

Published in: on July 23, 2009 at 10:58 am  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Opa, glad to read your posting on our Health Care Plan. I too, have friends in Canada and this has been an ongoing discussion since 2000. Overall, they (my canadian friends) are very happy with their Health Care Plan and how they pay for it. I was really surprised at the way they see it. Now, I feel there is room for improvement even with the Canadian Health Care Plan and I feel this is the time that we can look at their Health Care Plan and come up with a real neat plan for America’s Health Care Plan.

    There is one thing that is bothering me and it is this: We are fighting against a National Health Care Plan but yet we pay for Medicare and it is not perfect nor is it cheap. We need to have a real dialogue about Health Care in America without the political fallout.

  2. Unfortunately, nothing gets done of any significance in a representative democracy like ours without political fallout. People naturally disagree.

  3. I am a Canadian who was Diagnosed with P.T.S.D in a treatment center in New Hampshire. Upon my return I found a nightmare as there are no doctors in Canada who have a clue about P.T.S.D. Doctors at the Royal Ottawa Hospital (suppose to be the best mental hospital in Canada), Docotrs have told me that abused children do not suffer from P.T.S.D. and that I should “Just get over my childhood”. With statements like that they are revictimizing me.
    In treatment in 1983 I was introduced to a rap group consisting of Vietnam Veterans. They accepted me as one of them; as they said it doesn’t matter how we get P.T.S.D. but the importance of the meetings was in sharing how we deal with the ramifications today (such as night terrors).
    Just as an example of how backwards are mental health system is in the fact that a person with addiction and a secondary mental problem is said to have “Concurrent disorder” in the US and all other English speaking countries it is referred to as Dual Diagnosis.
    Most Canadians talk about having a good system; however most don’t try and find mental health help.
    Currently and this has been the case for a number of years; there are no phychiatrist in Ottawa that are seeing new patients. Many of our good doctors have left for the US. Most medical personnel don’t like to be what one doctor referred to as a “Civil Servant” being dictated diorectives by the provincial government.
    It is a sad situation and there are no efforts to correct it. Unfortunately, most people who have mental disorders are not in the position to fight for themselves and demand a better mental health system.
    We may have insurance but unfortunately this does not help depressed people when we have no where to use it.
    I am forever grateful for the chance to have been in treatment in New Hampshire; even though my recover was totally sabotaged by a none exsistance “Mental Medical System”.

  4. How unfortunate, James. It seems as though your situation there in Canada, as you describe it, is true.

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