Canadians split on healthcare privatization: survey

By Greg Bowman

Canadians appear to be divided when it comes to privatizing healthcare in the country.

A new survey from the Angus Reid Institute has found that Canadians fall into one of three camps on whether or not to expand private healthcare.

The survey found that people are largely either devoted to the public healthcare model, proponents of private care, or “curious but hesitant” about a change.

Thirty-nine per cent of people polled say there is “little to no place” for privatization in Canadian healthcare, adding that doing so “only exacerbates current challenges,” the survey found.

Just over a quarter (28 per cent) surveyed said they are in favour of a private model, calling it a “necessary evolution” in the country’s health care. Additionally, those in that category voiced support of “hybrid care” options that are seen in places like Australia, Germany, and Britain.

A third of respondents (33 per cent) fell somewhere in the middle of the two previous camps, saying they were “sympathetic to both sides of the debate.” The report says that the group finds potential value in having certain services go private. However, the cohort is also said to cite concerns about healthcare access for low-income Canadians.

While Canadians appear to have carved out their stances on privatization, there seems to be disagreement on what exactly the term means.

Recently, Ontario, Alberta, and Saskatchewan have made moves to publicly fund surgeries at private clinics as a way to cut down wait list times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the poll, 51 per cent of Canadians think that constitutes “private” healthcare while 33 per cent disagreed.

The concept of people paying out of pocket for treatment, however, garnered a bit more consensus, with 71 per cent of respondents saying it would constitute private care.

The survey comes as the federal government is holding meetings with Canada’s premiers about the $46 billion healthcare transfer deal.

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