GOLDSTEIN: Expensive, mediocre health-care system needs reform, report says

Article content

Canadians are paying too much for too little health care because the federal government prohibits the provinces from reforming an expensive and deteriorating system, according to a new study by the Fraser Institute.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

The report by the fiscally conservative think tank says while Canada ranks fifth highest in age-adjusted per capita spending on health care among 28 comparable countries with universal health care systems, Canada’s performance is “poor to moderate.”

The study, Less Ottawa, More Province, 2021: How Decentralized Federalism is Key to Health Care Reform , says that despite high expenditures, Canada ranks 26th out of 28 in the number of doctors (2.8 per 1,000 people); 25th out of 26 in acute care hospital beds (2.1 per 1,000) and 24th out of 28 in psychiatric beds (0.4 per 1,000).

Canada ranks 21st out of 24 countries in the number of MRIs (10.5 per million of population); 22nd out of 26 in CT scanners (15.2 per million) and 17th out of 24 in PET scanners (1.6 per million).

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

Canada’s medical wait times are the longest in 10 comparable countries with universal health care systems that are members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

“Taken together, these data demonstrate that Canada has substantially fewer human and capital medical resources than many peer jurisdictions that spend comparable amounts on health care,” the study concludes.

According to study co-author Ben Eisen, “COVID-19 has exacerbated two of the most important ongoing public policy challenges facing Canada: The deterioration of government finances and the comparable underperformance of our health care system.”

Without reforms it will only get worse, he said, because of the increasing expenditures on health needed to care for Canada’s aging population.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

Health spending is the largest single program expenditure in every province, ranging from 36.7% in Quebec to 38.5% in New Brunswick, 38.6% in P.E.I., 38.9% in B.C., 39.6% in Saskatchewan, 39.6% in Manitoba, 40.3% in Alberta, 42% in Ontario, 46.1% in Newfoundland and Labrador and 46.6% in Nova Scotia.

The study argues the major impediment to reform is the Canada Health Act which prohibits provinces from implementing cost-sharing measures with patients such as co-insurance, deductibles and co-payments.

While these policies, designed to ensure efficient use of the health care system by patients are common in countries with universal health care systems, the Canada Health Act stipulates that federal transfer payments to the provinces for health care — $40.4 billion last year alone — will be withheld on a dollar-for-dollar basis from any province that implements them.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

  1. Doctor Meera Jayarajan and nurse Kevin Sagun from Humber River Hospital administer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to residents at a Toronto Community Housing seniors building in the northwest end of Toronto, March 25, 2021.

    Canada’s overworked healthcare sector brace for staff shortages as vaccine mandates loom

  2. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to question during a news conference in Ottawa, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021.

    Canada’s ‘tax the rich’ plan leaves big debt risk untouched

  3. (Getty Images)

    GOLDSTEIN: The real cost of ‘free’ health care in Canada — report

Critics argue changing this would bring in “two-tier, American style health care”, which is absurd because many comparable countries to Canada with universal health care systems have co-payment mechanisms, spend less money per capita on health care than we do and have better health care outcomes.

In fact, the U.S. wasn’t included in the comparison of Canada with other countries because it doesn’t have universal health care.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

“Cutting the strings attached to health-care transfers from Ottawa … while maintaining the principles of universality and portability would free the provinces to experiment and reform health care delivery and financing,” Eisen said.

He said the Jean Chretien government did this with federal transfers for spending on welfare programs in the 1990s, reducing the amount of the payments but giving the provinces more freedom to deliver programs such as workfare, which dramatically decreased the number of Canadians on welfare.

    Advertisement

    Story continues below

    Comments

    Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

    Share:

    Share on facebook
    Facebook
    Share on twitter
    Twitter
    Share on pinterest
    Pinterest
    Share on linkedin
    LinkedIn
    On Key

    Related Posts

    On AIR

    Russtrat world