Of course to utter those words in Canada and by a Canadian is next to heresy. Most people, almost all , refuse to talk about it. And when I have done so in speeches a couple of years ago( don’t do them anymore, prefer the blog) little of any kind of response was forthcoming . And talking to Canadians individually or in small groups I get the impression that I really should address another topic or the look I get is one that says: I think you are exaggerating or really stretching the truth.
I was honoured to chair an expert group several years ago . We were appointed by the Federal Department of Health to examine the state of federal policy as it related to Diabetes. Through that process we had sufficient funds to contract work to an international consultant group to examine what other countries were doing as it relates to combating the disease. It was a real eye opener and all of us on the panel learned a lot. It was amazing how Finland, for example, were coordinating all the health stakeholders in their country . By contrast , it was disappointing to see how a lot of our system was disjointed and the various levels of treatment available throughout the nation . This was not universal health care by any measure.
I was reminded of this in the last few days by various experiences I learned about through friends and acquaintances and some of my own. For example : The time it takes to see a specialist after a referral had been made by the GP. A year and more in some cases. More and more money has been spent yet wait times show little improvement.
Then , I decided to examine the work of the Commonwealth Fund, a private American Foundation that has been researching health issues in the US for decades and in the last several years expanding that research internationally.
They have a new international study ( Internarional Profiles of Health Care Systems 2015) that was published in January of this year . They looked at health care in a number of advanced nations including Canada, Australia, New Zealand , UK, Sweden, Norway, France, Germany , Italy , The Netherlands and the US.
Their examination covered many topics including the number of doctors per one thousand , the number of MRI’s, and ,of course , various outcomes .
For the sake of brevity ( I would encourage a visit to the Commonwealth Fund Website and read the full report) I will highlight just two points :
1. On the issue of seeing a doctor the same day or next when sick, Canada scored the lowest percentage of people being successful in that time frame at 41%, compared to the nations mentioned above. Germany scored highest at 76%, New Zealand at 73%.
2. Using the BMI index at greater than thirty , measuring obesity , Canada came second in the highest percentage of its people above that measure compared to the other countries referenced above .
When one looks at the dismal state of our economy , the rising Government deficits almost everywhere , and especially the Federal Governmet , and the rising costs of health care nonetheless , one wonders , in all common sense , how we can stay on this present health track . In the next few years a number of Provinces will be spending half of their deficit racked budgets on health care.
I fear change will be forced upon us and in such a context the right decisions are less likely.