The Underminding Of The Canada Health Act The Undermining of the Canada Health Act Research Assignment The Undermining of the Canada Health Act By Thomas W. McIntyre A paper submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for HSC 401 Health Care Administration Baker College November 9, 2000 This paper is an overview of the Canadian Health Care system, and the Canadian Health Care Act. Below I discuss topics that are concerns for people under this system, which include the following: ? The Evolution of Canadian Health Care ? Universality and Accessibility vs. Choice ? Decreasing Cost vs. Non-Profit ? Efficiency and Quality ? Implications for Nursing Practices ? The Future of Canadian Health Care This paper will also point out strengths and weaknesses in the Canadian Health Care system.
With covering the above topics It is my intention for the reader to have an understanding of how the Canadian Health Care System functions, and what can happen in the near future. In the past, Canada’s government-funded, universally accessible, health care system has been praised and admired both at home and abroad as one of the finest in the world. A great source of pride and comfort for many Canadians is that it is based on five fundamental principles. Principles that are a reflection of the values held by Canadian citizens since the formation of Medicare in 1966. These principles were reinforced in the Canada Health Act, (CHA), of 1984 according to Gordon, Mintz and Chen (1998), state that “the Canadian system is universal, accessible, portable, comprehensive and non-profit.” With increasing concerns of debts and deficits, Canada’s publicly funded health care system has recently become the target of fiscal attack. Efforts to reform and restructure the system have produced few results.
Currently, some Government officials throughout the country are looking towards a more radical approach. An approach that would see not only the reform and restructuring of the method of operation of the current system, but that would change the system entirely. The proposed idea? In provinces like Alberta, Ontario, and Nova Scotia, The Canadian Government is looking into increasing the role of the private sector in the current health care system. On December 29th, 1999, Nancy MacBeth leader of the Alberta liberal party was cited in the Edmonton Journal as saying: ” There’s ‘ample evidence’ that the Alberta government’s plan to expand the role of private health-care will contravene the Canada Health Act.” This is the strongest argument against privatization. It reflects the fears of many Canadians, the fear that a two-tier system similar to that of the United States will develop.
The fear that the system, which was built upon values, reflected in five principles will be eroded and replaced and that they will be the ones left to suffer the consequences. According to Wilson (1995), Privatization of health care would undermine the principles of the Canada Health Act and as such would undermine the integrity of the Canadian Health Care system. The Evolution of Canadian Health Care In 1966 one of Canada’s most prided achievements to date was introduced to the Canadian Health Care system, and that was the implementation of Canadian Medicare. This new program of Medicare was a daring and innovative concept pioneered by Canadians for Canadians, Armstrong and Armstrong (1996). It revolutionized health care.
Canadians overwhelmingly supported the new system as it reflected their values and the import they placed on universality and equal access to health care. Now, in the beginning of the new millennium, the ideals of the same system are in jeopardy. Canadians are at present feeling the effects of the restructuring of health care. Accessibility and quality are being threatened due to cutbacks coupled with a lack of funding. There is a consensus now between medical professionals, the public, and the government that the health care system is deteriorating. It is failing to provide the quality of care promised in the Canada Health Act (CHA), and prided by so many Canadians. Due to the government restructuring the strings on the public purse continue to tighten.
Transfer payments from the federal government continue to decrease as provincial debt loads increase. And, although the Canadian minister of health and premier assured the Canadian public that the costs of health care were doubling or even tripling, People from the providence’s of Alberta, Manitoba, and British Columbia have witnessed a steady decline in government spending on health care. The proportion of gross domestic product, (GDP), which Canada allocates to health care, is declining rapidly. Alberta is ranked last among the ten provinces in Canada, (Taft, 1997). Albertan’s now find themselves with a struggling health care system and a waiting list.
Unfortunately, Alberta is not an isolated instance, other providence’s such as Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia are finding themselves faced with the problem. The proposed solution from current Canadian government would see the health care system incorporate the private sector. According to government research this would decrease cost, increase accessibility and efficiency, Dirnfeld (1996). Universality and Accessibility vs. Choice Universality and accessibility go hand in hand.
They are the principles that assure that each Canadian regardless of financial situation will have equal opportunity to access the same level of care, Norris (1999). The lack of a private market in the current system, some Canadian officials will argue, limits the individual’s freedom of choice. Supporters of privatization maintain that these principles conflict with Canadians’ right to choose; the patient’s autonomy to choose to pay privately, and the physician’s choice to provide preferential treatments to those payers Dirnfeld, (1996), Gordon, Mintz and Chen (1998). Increasing choice in this manner would lead only to such detrimental practices as “cream skimming”, Dirnfeld (1996). Canadian Insurance companies would want only to provide coverage for those who meet certain “low-risk” physical criteria; physicians could care for those who could pay or for those who diagnosis proved to be the most profitable. This would be leading Canadians to take giant leaps backward in health care; moving towards the medical model of old that focused on disease and cure rather than health promotion and disease prevention.
With privatization comes private insurance, which can then delegate the what, whom, where and when health care services are accessed, in turn greatly limiting the individual’s choice (Armstrong and Fegan 1998). Utilization of a private for-profit system will be restricted to those who have adequate insurance coverage or the ability to pay out of pocket. Accessing services could also become dependent on hours of operation and rights to different facilities as dictated by private business owners and restrictions imposed by insurance plans. Accessibility will also be affected when for-profit hospitals determine where to be established. Many Canadians in the various provinces live in rural areas too sparsely populated to encourage free-market competition. As more populated areas are bombarded with a barrage of health care competitors vying for their money, rural communities will be abandoned. Businesses and employees will be lured away by the prospect of fatter pocket books as profit is exchanged for people. Decreasing Cost vs.
Non-profit One of the driving forces behind privatization is that it will cut and control increasing …