Canada's Health Care System

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Canada’s health care system “can be described as a publicly-funded, privately-provided, universal, comprehensive, affordable, single-payer, provincially administered national health care system” (Bernard, 1992, p.103). Health care in Canada is provincial responsibility, with the Canada Health act being a federal legislation (Bernard, 1992, p. 102). Federal budget cuts, has caused various problems within Medicare such as increased waiting times and lack of new technology. Another problem with Medicare is that The Canada Heath Act does not cover expenditures for prescriptions drugs. All these issue has caused individuals to suggest making Medicare privatized. Although, Canada’s health care system consists of shortcomings, our universal comprehensive health care system is not crisis. The following paper will discuss how the federal-provincial relations and media have aided to these problems. Lastly, throughout the paper intergovernmental solutions to these issues will be presented.

The 1867 Constitution Act did not assign responsibility for health care to either provincial or federal governments, but it did assign the responsibility of hospitals towards provinces, thus health care in Canada has become under provincial jurisdiction (Stamler, & Yiu, 2005 p.17). In addition, “the Canadian Constitution has an equalization clause requiring provinces to provide “reasonable comparable levels of public service for reasonably comparable levels of taxation” (Stamler, & Yiu , 2005 p. 17). Despite it being under provincial jurisdiction, the federal government has been involved in funding and making sure the services are available. Since territorial and provincial wealth differs, the federal government’s role is to equalize services across provinces. The federal government does this two ways: “first by contributing money (in effect, transferring money from wealthier to poorer provinces), and second, by stipulating specific conditions that provinces must meet in order to receive that money” (Stamler, & Yiu , 2005 p. 17).

Roy Romanow, the premier of Saskatchewan argues that Canada does not have a universal health care system but “14 public health care systems – one for each province and territory and one for the federal government to provide funding, regulation, and administration” (Romanow, 2005, p. 3). The fourteen systems are tied together by Canada Health Act, 1984. The Canadian Heath Act states that “all citizens are entitled to a core of medically necessary services, delivered by physicians and hospitals” and paid through progressive taxation measures (Romanow, 2005, p.3). In addition, the Act outlines five principles: “it must be universally accessible, comprehensive in nature, portable between provinces, delivered without direct charge to patients, and publicly administered” (Romanow, 2005, p.3). Therefore, each province decides on how to administer funds,`` subsidize, and deliver additional public health care services such as prescription drug plans, home care, mental health care, long-term care, and community care services” (Romanow,2005, p.3).

The federal government used to provide approximately a third of the money to provinces on health care costs, but during the 1990s due to budget deficits the federal government cut heath care funds towards the provinces (CBC News Online, 2006). The federal government cash contribution between 1997- 1999 was $12.5 billion (Stamler, & Yiu , 2005, p.19). In addition, ``yearly increases in health spending averaged 11.1% from 1975 to 1991, but dropped to increases of 2.5% annually in the late 1980s and early 1990s” (Canadian Doctors of Medicare, 2009).

In 2003, Roy Romanow released a report on fixing Medicare. At the same time, Ottawa cut 16 percent of its share and in order to increase Ottawa’s share to 25% Romanow recommended an infusion of federal dollars (CBC News Online, 2006). This led to the first Ministers gathering in 2003. This gathering was “described as the most...
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