NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Not Repeating Canada's Mistake

November 25, 2002

Oregon voters -- not known for opposing government intervention in economic decisions -- soundly rejected a Canadian-style single-payer health care system in the recent election. But that hasn't stopped some politicians, notably presumptive presidential candidate Al Gore, from promoting this discredited idea, observers say.

Canada's system has been around long enough to judge its merits -- and the system is at best worthless, and at worst harmful.

  • The high taxes needed to finance the massive system puts the average Canadian family's tax burden at nearly 50 percent of its income -- and they don't get what they pay for.
  • As of 2000, Canada had a mere 7.3 percent CT scanners and seven radiation machines per million persons -- a worse ratio than the Czech Republic, which is still recovering from communism.

Rationing, which follows any attempt to provide "free" universal care, causes waiting periods for treatment that no resident of a developed country should have to endure, critics charge. According to the Fraser Institute:

  • The median waiting time for angioplasty in British Columbia is 12 weeks -- more than enough time to suffer a fatal heart attack.
  • To get radiation for breast cancer in Ontario can take 8 weeks.
  • It's an average 12 week wait in Quebec to get prostate cancer radiation treatment.
  • The average waiting times have increased from 9.3 weeks in 1993 to 14 weeks by 1999.

Rather than repeating the Canadian mistake, critics say, the United States should give citizens choice and control over their health care.

Source: Editorial, "Give Up The Ghost," Investor's Business Daily, November 25, 2002.


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