Media Releases

A court case that could change Canada’s health care system

Montreal, September 6, 2016 – As a long-awaited trial gets underway before the Supreme Court of British Columbia, pitting Dr. Brian Day against the province’s Health Ministry, the MEI is taking the opportunity presented by this court challenge to reiterate that reforms are needed in order to improve access to health care.

Among the solutions put forward by the MEI:

  • Develop a market for private insurance, as exists in most industrialized countries.
  • Promote a mixed system in which doctors could practise both in the public sector and in the private sector.
  • Finance hospitals based on services rendered rather than with a global budget.

In Quebec, nearly one in five patients still waits over six months for a hip or knee operation, and wait times for elective surgery have not improved significantly since 2008. In British Columbia, the situation is even more problematic, with the longest wait times in the country.

“Provincial governments remain incapable of providing access to care within a reasonable timeframe, and continue to maintain their monopoly over the provision of medical care,” says Jasmin Guénette, Vice President of the MEI. “It’s high time for Canada to take some inspiration from European health care systems that are among the most successful in the world.”

Indeed, international experience confirms that the presence of a mixed health care system is not incompatible with health care services that are accessible to all. Those who are covered by private insurance policies continue to contribute to the financing of the public system through their income taxes. Access to care for all patients in the public system is thus improved.

“Some are afraid that the universal health care system will collapse if the plaintiffs should win their case before the courts, but the universal system is not in peril,” asserts Mr. Guénette. “On the contrary, the coexistence of public and private health care systems allows for more flexibility and diversity of services, to the benefit of patients.”

“It is possible to improve access to health care by encouraging entrepreneurship and by giving patients more freedom of choice, without undermining the principles of equality and universality which the Canadian population holds dear,” concludes Michel Kelly-Gagnon, President and CEO of the MEI.

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The Montreal Economic Institute is an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit research and educational organization. Through its studies and its conferences, the MEI stimulates debate on public policies in Quebec and across Canada by proposing wealth-creating reforms based on market mechanisms.

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Interview requests: Pascale Déry, Senior Advisor, Communications and Development, MEI / Tel.: 514-273-0969 ext. 2233 / Cell.: 514-502-6757 / Email: pdery@iedm.org

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