Montreal, September 8, 2004 – Just days before federal and provincial leaders meet to discuss health care funding, the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) concludes, through its latest Economic Note, that the Canadian health care system is not financially viable in its current form and that constant increases in public spending are not the solution.
“The Canadian health care system has deteriorated in recent years despite the injection of billions of extra dollars in government funds. A simple increase in public spending will not be sufficient to solve the problems or to meet the needs of an aging population,” writes MEI Economist Norma Kozhaya.
This conclusion is shared by a growing number of Canadians. According to a Léger Marketing poll published last week, 45% of Canadians believe that injecting new public funds is only a temporary solution to the number one problem affecting the Canadian health system: waiting lists. What’s more, 32% of Canadians believe that new public funds are not at all a solution to the problem.
Private sector contributions
According to Norma Kozhaya, major changes are required to limit costs, particularly by allowing more competition in the provision of health services and by implementing measures that make individuals more aware of the cost of services they receive.
“Canada remains one of the few countries in the world that maintain a public monopoly in the provision of health care services judged medically necessary,” she writes. The Economic Note cites, among other examples, France and Sweden, which have strong private systems complementing their public health care.
Through eventual private insurance and RRSP programs, patients could ultimately provide the financing required by the health system. According to Ms. Kozhaya, citizens will be more willing to commit additional resources if their own health is directly involved and if they have the impression they are getting better control over results rather than sinking more of their tax dollars into the current system.
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