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Here's what Canadians think about privatization in health-care system


As health-care negotiations continue between premiers and the federal government, a new survey suggests Canadians are divided on the prospect of more privatization in the health system.

According to the survey conducted by Angus Reid, 39 per cent of Canadians are "public health purists," which means they'd like little to no private-sector involvement in health care, while 28 per cent say increasing privatization is necessary.

In the middle, 33 per cent said they were "curious, but hesitant" and are on the fence. This group believes the private sector could play a role in certain circumstances, but has concerns over the staffing shortages in the public system and access for low-income Canadians.

Among NDP voters, 68 per cent were public health purists while 52 per cent of Liberal voters held this position. Conservative voters, on the other hand, were more likely to be pro-private care (50 per cent).

In addition, 47 per cent of Ontarians identified as a public health purist, making Ontario more likely than any other province to oppose privatization. Angus Reid says this may be a response to "recent developments" in the province. Last Tuesday, the province tabled a bill to allow more private clinics to provide taxpayer-funded surgeries in an effort to clear the backlogs in the public system.

Meanwhile, people in Saskatchewan (40 per cent) and Alberta (36 per cent) were more likely to support privatization.

In addition, 45 per cent of respondents said they worry private care would only worsen the system, while 36 per cent said privatization would improve it. In Ontario, 53 per cent said private care would worsen the system, more than any other province.

Saskatchewan and Quebec were the only two provinces where more people said private care would improve the system. In Saskatchewan, 47 per cent held this view while 34 per cent said it would worsen the system. In Quebec, 40 per cent said private care would be an improvement, while 38 per cent disagreed.

Amid the long wait times in Canadian hospitals, some have floated the idea of allowing patients to pay out-of-pocket at private clinics for faster access to surgeries and tests. Of the respondents, 43 per cent said they support this idea while 47 per cent oppose. Opposition to this move was strongest in Ontario, while Saskatchewan saw the highest levels of support.

Some Canadians (43 per cent) also believe the provinces are intentionally ruining public health care to make private care look better, while an equal percentage disagree. Ontario and Manitoba had the highest proportion of residents agreeing with this statement, while British Columbians and Quebecers disagree at the highest levels.

There also appears to be disagreement on what constitutes as "privatization" in the health-care system. Most Canadians (71 per cent) seem to agree that paying out of pocket does represent privatization. However, 33 per cent said they believe paying third parties with public funds to deliver care outside the government system is not privatization, while 51 per cent say it is.


The survey was conducted online between Feb. 1 and 2 among a randomized sample of 2,005 Canadian adults who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. The results carry a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Top Stories

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