Canadian Health Care Policy

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Canada’s health care policy was designed to give all residents equal right and access to health care professionals. Although health care is available to all Canadian citizens, it publicly funded, not free. The provinces have separate health care plans but they all share common characteristics which were decided in the Canada Health Act. The Canada Health Act of 1984 was an amalgamation of two previous acts with an addition to give all Canadians access to health services; however, recently Canada’s health care policy has been challenged. It has been argued that there is confusion in the meaning of accessibility (Wilson & Rosenberg, 2004) and that Canada’s health care policy does not address the need for competent patient care (Liberman, 2010) or the inequalities in the Social Determinants of Health (Bryant et al, 2011).

In 1867 Canada became a self governing colony, determining the federal and provincial jurisdictions with the British North America Act (Potter & Perry, 2006). At this time provinces were responsible for providing the funds for health, education and social services. However, they did not have the funding to support the health care needs of the public. Therefore, as the country grew and more people began to immigrate to Canada, “provinces enacted public health acts to establish local boards of health to hire medical health officers and sanitary inspectors” (Potter & Perry). Although throughout the 1890’s and early 1900’s different charitable organizations were created such as the Children’s Aid Society and the Red Cross, it was still very difficult for individuals to pay physicians. Because of this, the use of taxation to pay for physicians was introduced through the Municipality Act in 1916. Throughout the Great Depression, the financial struggles made it impossible for many people to pay their medical bills, which is why Premier Tommy Douglas of Saskatchewan introduced paying for health care services by insurance plans through the Hospital...
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