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Canadians are ready for genuine health care liberalization


Saturday, December 4, 2021 8:00:00 AM

While the Canadian health care system's capacity to treat more patients during the pandemic remains particularly low, a clear majority of Canadians (58%) want their governments to allow increased access to health care services provided by entrepreneurs, versus just 27% who are opposed to this. Moreover, according to the Ipsos poll commissioned by the Montreal Economic Institute, a majority of Canadians (52%) also agree that the rate of increase in health care spending is unsustainable.

Highlights:

- 90% of Canadians agree that there's a need to improve the capacity of the health care system, be it through additional beds, more PPE, hiring staff, or investing in hospitals and clinics. 94% of those aged 55 years and over are of this opinion.
- 71% of Canadians agree that their health care system is too bureaucratic to respond to the needs of the population, a substantial increase over last year. In Quebec, 85% of people agree with this statement.
- 58% of Canadians want entrepreneurs to provide health care services within a universal system, as happens for instance in Sweden and France. Quebecers are particularly open to this option: 64% of them agree, versus just 25% who oppose this.
- 83% of Canadians do not know that Sweden and France allow private entrepreneurs to run hospitals financed by the public health care system. Once informed of this fact, 59% are in favour of Canada following this model, including 70% of Quebecers.
- 62% of Canadians want the health care system to be more decentralized, which means that hospitals would be more autonomous in their decision-making and remunerated on the basis of the services they deliver (per care episode actually delivered rather than through historical budgets). In Quebec, 76% of people are in agreement with this idea.

"Canadians can see that their health care system has really been stretched to its limits during the pandemic, and a great many of them are calling for a system with better surge capacity," says Maria Lily Shaw, economist at the MEI. "For a majority of Canadians, it is just as obvious that the rate at which our health care spending is rising cannot be maintained indefinitely. We need to consider alternative solutions," adds the economist.

"A clear majority of Canadians are open to entrepreneurs being allowed to provide a more complete range of health care services, which would help relieve the pressure on the public system. Unfortunately, Canadians know little about health care systems that exist elsewhere in the world, except for the United States. Once they learn that entrepreneurs can run hospitals financed by the public purse in progressive countries like Sweden and France, they then become very much in favour of this principle," points out Ms. Shaw.

"It is interesting to note the extent to which Quebecers are particularly open to the contribution of entrepreneurs to their health care system. This certainly goes against some popular misconceptions regarding Quebecers' opinions," says the economist.

"One thing that's clear is that Canadians now understand just how bureaucratic their health care system is. No less than 71% of Canadians, and 85% of Quebecers, believe the system is too bureaucratic to quickly adapt to the needs of the population. That by itself says a lot," concludes the economist.

The Ipsos Canada online poll was carried out from November 22 to 25, 2021, among a sample of 1,168 Canadians aged 18 and over.

SOURCE: Montreal Economic Institute