Our View: Time to do health care better again

The Fraser Institute has identified a $1.1 billion loss to Canada’s economy resulting from people waiting in line for necessary health care last year.

The study, The Private Cost of Public Queues for Medically Necessary Care, calculates the average value of time lost during the work week for each of the estimated 928,120 patients waiting for surgery at $1,202 per patient.

Keep in mind that the Fraser Institute, which bills itself as “an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank,” actually tends to lean towards the right reaches of the political spectrum, and is not widely acclaimed as a champion for social programs.

But other sources indicate that Canada’s health care system – once among the very best in the world – is not what it could be.

The World Health Organization ranks Canada’s health care 30th in the world.

We are ranked behind the United States in patient wait times… at least, behind Americans who get any care at all, and not taking into account “appropriate care” nuances of the American system.

But there we go again: as soon as Canada’s overall health care quality is brought into question, we compare ourselves with the United States (ranked well behind us at 37th by the WHO), and the conversation is quickly shut down with cries of, “We don’t want the American system!”

And nothing changes.

But in the past few decades, at least 29 other countries have moved ahead of us – and many of them make no bones of the fact that they did so by building on – and improving – the Canadian model.

It’s time we looked beyond our immediate neighbour, and took a serious look at what some of our more distant relatives are apparently doing better than we are.

Canada needs to do what they did: look at the best in the world, apply our own ingenuity and tailor to our own needs, and make ours better.

– B.G.

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