AP/St. Petersburg Times Examines Problems With Canadian Single-Payer Health Care System
The AP/St. Petersburg Times on Sunday examined the Canadian single-payer health care system, which many residents maintain is "badly in need of emergency care" because of long waits for treatment.
Although U.S. residents who travel to Canada for low-cost influenza vaccinations "often come away impressed at the free and first-class medical care available to Canadians," the Canadian government acknowledges that "there's a crisis: a lack of physicians and nurses, state-of-the-art equipment and funding," according to the AP/Times. Canadian residents who require surgery or specialist care currently must wait about 18 weeks for treatment, compared with 9.3 weeks in 1993, according to the Fraser Institute, a public policy think tank in Vancouver, Canada.
According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which supports tax reform and more privatization of the Canadian health care system, taxes currently account for about 48% of the annual income of an average Canadian family, in part to finance the health care system. "We can't afford a state monopoly on health care anymore," CTF Ontario Director Tasha Kheiriddin said, adding, "We have to examine private alternatives, as well."
However, many Canadian residents consider the national health care system a "marker of egalitarianism and independent identity that sets their country apart from the United States," where 45 million residents lack health insurance, the Times reports. Raisa Deber, a professor of health policy at the University of Toronto, said, "Canadians are very proud of the fact that if they need care, they will get care."
According to the AP/Times, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin has promised to provide $33.3 billion over the next 10 years to address problems with the national health care system (AP/St. Petersburg Times, 3/20).