Why Are We Accepting Mediocre Healthcare?

People from other countries often think that Canada’s healthcare system is admirable because it has publicly funded universal health care.  While it’s true that we are proud that our healthcare system is public, it doesn’t take a very close look to see that Canada’s healthcare system is falling behind. When compared to similar countries, Canada’s healthcare system is lagging in many critical areas.

For instance, Canada trails the world when it comes to the availability of new medicines. We wait an average of three and a half years before new medicines – for cancer and other serious diseases – are approved for public funding. Compare that to about 1 year in Germany, or less than 6 months in the USA.[1]

And it doesn’t end there. We place near the bottom of 38 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries when it comes to surgery wait times, the availability of hospital and long-term care beds, the number of doctors and nurses per capita, access to specialists, access to diagnostic imaging, and the list goes on and on. Chances are, you have personally experienced this in some way.

So why do Canadians accept this? After all, if we all pay for our healthcare through our taxes, shouldn’t we demand better?

Our premiers and the Prime Minister need to work together and “AIM HIGHER” to get our healthcare system back on track to being among the world’s best.

Here is CARP’s three-point plan to make it happen:

  1. Focus on results that matter to patients: Too many things in our healthcare system put the institutions and bureaucracy ahead of results for patients. We need to change health system compensation models from today’s focus on simply providing “services” to one based on positive outcomes and convenience for patients. For instance, if a hospital cuts hip surgery wait times by half, give the relevant administrators a bonus. If a clinic keeps average patient waiting room times below 15 minutes, reward all involved. By implementing this type of pay-for-performance structure we would start to see results.
  2. Cut unnecessary red tape: Our health system is tied up in red tape. Why can’t a doctor from Halifax practice in Vancouver? Why do we need to wait years for public funding of new drugs, when many other countries make them available to patients as soon as they are approved for safety and efficacy? Let’s cut the red tape and get patients the best quality care and treatment for our money.
  3. Invest wisely: To make big changes quickly, we need new targeted investments in key areas of the health system that deliver the most value. Along with investments in additional personnel and facilities, we need to spend to speed up adoption of technology to allow more remote care, home care and other ways to meet patient needs in an efficient manner without relying so much on traditional clinics and hospitals.                   

Reach out to your decision-makers and let them know you want to see changes to improve Canada’s healthcare system.  You can take action with a press of a button on our website.

[1] Analysis based on IQVIA MIDAS and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, European Medicines Agency and Japan Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency data, August 2022.