NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Canadian Health Collapse

February 9, 2000

Canada's government-run health care system is in crisis: over-burdened, forced to ration care and unable to shake off a strait-jacket of centralized, bureaucratic planning.

  • Last January 2, 23 of the 25 hospital emergency rooms in Toronto were closed to all patients, regardless of the severity of their illness.
  • The Canadian Medical Journal reported that in Ontario during one 12-month period, 121 patients were permanently removed from the waiting list for coronary by-pass surgery because they had become so sick they could no longer undergo surgery with a reasonable risk of survival.
  • The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ranks Canada in the bottom third of its 29 members countries for availability of medical technology such as MRI and CT scanners, yet Canada ranked fifth in national health expenditures in 1997.

Despite the general belief, not everyone is covered under the government-run health care system.

  • Studies show that in 1997-98 about 170,000 people in British Columbia -- 4.2 percent of the population -- were not covered because they had not paid premiums required by the province.
  • Alberta also requires a premium and does not cover individuals who do not pay.
  • At a large teaching hospital in Vancouver, 10 percent of emergency room patients have no coverage.

A nationwide poll in 1999 found that 76 percent of Canadians now believe the health care system is in crisis.

Source: Bill McArthur and Owen Lippert, "Canadian Health Care -- A System in Collapse," Backgrounder, January 2000, Fraser Institute, 4th Floor, 1770 Burrard Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6J 3G7, Canada, (604) 688-0221.


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