Presentation of the Canadian medical system
Canada is often ranked among the most liveable and stable economies in the world. According to NBC (2022), the country is typically “praised for its affordability, access to education and health, political stability, individual freedom and environmental protection”. Canadian residents can enjoy a “publicly funded health care system […] with 13 provincial and territorial health care insurance plans”, depending on where they live. According to the Government of Canada (2022), “under this system, all Canadian residents have reasonable access to medically necessary hospital and physician services without paying out-of-pocket”. In addition, there are private health care clinics and practitioners in Canada which are not free: people use them for faster service (NBC, 2022).
Access to medical care in Canada
However, not all Canadian residents feel that they have equal and fair access to medical care. A research paper published by the Health Disparities Task Group of the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Advisory Committee on Population Health and Health Security (2004) states that “health disparities are not randomly distributed; they are differentially distributed among specific populations (e.g. Aboriginal peoples) by gender, educational attainment and income, and other markers of disadvantage or inequality of opportunity”. It is sad to see and experience this type of inequalities and injustices in our contemporary world. The question that needs to mobilize private, public, and not-for-profit sectors is: how do we prevent and overcome these challenges?
The hidden cost of health disparities
At the end of the day, these health disparities are “costly for the health system and Canadian society as a whole”. Furthermore, they are “inconsistent with Canadian values, threaten the cohesiveness of community and society, challenge the sustainability of the health system, and have an impact on the economy” (Health Disparities Task Group of the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Advisory Committee on Population Health and Health Security, 2004).
Future of the health care system in Canada
According to the Health Disparities Task Group of the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Advisory Committee on Population Health and Health Security (2004), “better health enables more people to participate in the economy”. In addition to this, “reducing the costs of lost productivity by only 10% to 20% could add billions of dollars to the economy”. With the Covid-19 pandemic, many world nations including Canada have seen their medical systems pushed beyond their limits. With already existing disparities in the society in terms of access to health care, we need to work together towards a better future for current and next generations. Collaboration and participation in the decision-making process with different stakeholders are key to allow the most equitable, accessible, and objective health care system.
Government of Canada (2022). Canada’s health care system. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/canada-health-care-system.html
Health Disparities Task Group of the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Advisory Committee on Population Health and Health Security (December 2004). Reducing Health Disparities – Roles of the Health Sector: Discussion Paper . https://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/ph-sp/disparities/pdf06/disparities_discussion_paper_e.pdf
NBC (March 28, 2022). What makes Canada a great place to live? https://www.nbc.ca/personal/advice/immigration/quality-of-life-in-canada.html