Canadians are unhappy with the current Medicare system and want new ways to fund health care, a poll by Ipsos Canada shows.
A vast majority of Canadians polled assigned the health care system an overall B grade. Almost all Canadians feel sustainability of the health care system hinges on guaranteeing timely access to health care services. Two-thirds agree with making increased federal funds conditional on improved monitoring and accountability
The poll was commissioned by the Canadian Medical Association.
"When over 41% of Canadians give the health care system either a C or an F, it is a clear indication of the terrible toll exacted by the lack of access resulting from the shortage of health care professionals," said Dr. Sunil Patel, President of the CMA. "The inexorable erosion of Canadians' confidence in their health care system is continuing and our politicians have yet to take adequate measures to end it."
Canadians were also asked to grade the sustainability of various components of Canada's public infrastructure, both physical and social. Canada's emergency services (fire, ambulance, etc.), education system and water and sewer systems all received overall B grades. Canadians gave the health care system, the Canada/Quebec Pension plans and roads and highways an overall C in terms of confidence the system will provide the same level and quality of service for future generations.
Lower grades were also the norm when it came to Canadians' views on the contributions of their governments to sustaining the health care system. The federal and provincial governments received overall C grades for providing adequate funding to the system and for working together. At the same time, Canadians ranked their own contributions, and those of health care providers and hospitals, higher, with overall B grades.
"Canadians know their health care system is only being held together by the people who work in it," added Dr. Patel. "Yet even with the combined efforts of all of us in the system - health care providers and our patients - access to health care services is only getting worse - and sustainability without access is meaningless."
The 2004 Report Card reinforces the message CMA has been delivering since February this year, that Canadians number one concern with medicare is timely access to health care services. Fully 97% of respondents agreed that any discussion of sustainability of the health care system must include a guarantee of timely access. At the same time only 30% agreed with cutting back medicare to provide only essential services that can be delivered within current budgets.
"Canadians are telling our political leaders that there is only one taxpayer, and that quibbling over which level of government pays what and when must give way to a truly national effort to save our health care system, one that involves providers sitting at the table," concluded Dr. Patel. "Thanks to the work of the CMA and others in the health care system we know both what the problems are and, in many cases, how to fix them - First Ministers must now take the historic opportunity before them and do something with it."
The survey results are based on the Canadian Medical Association 2004 National Report Card on the Sustainability of Health Care. Ipsos-Reid telephone interviews among 1,057 randomly chosen adult Canadians between July 9 and 12, 2004. The margin of error for the overall findings is ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.