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Less than half of Canadians are satisfied with provincial health care: survey

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A new Ipsos poll shows less than half of Canadians are pleased with their provincial health care system and the majority believe private entities can provide faster services.

The growing unhappiness with Canada’s health care system became apparent over the pandemic when hospitals saw an increase in healthcare professional burnout and mass exodus across the country.

The need for efficient healthcare has plagued Canada for the past few years with many Canadians saying wait times for emergency room visits and finding a family doctor are too long.

The issues with publicly funded health care moved the perception of private companies running services more positively, with more believing they can provide faster services compared to public institutions, the Ipsos survey shows

The study, conducted for the Montreal Economic Institute by the survey agency, shows 48 per cent of Canadians are not pleased with the country’s health care system. The poll was published April 6, 2023.

The results were lower among women (43 per cent) and residents of Atlantic Canada (25 per cent), as well as among residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba (34 per cent).

Ipsos conducted the poll between March 17 and 20, and spoke to 1,164 Canadians aged 18 and older.

Similar to previous polls, four in 10 people (38 per cent) believe health care investments made in the last decade have had no impact on the system. About 30 per cent believe the health care system has actually deteriorated over the same period of time.

Doubt in the system is higher among the Atlantic provinces (46 per cent) compared to B.C. (24 per cent), Alberta (30 per cent), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (38 per cent), Ontario (31 per cent) and Quebec (24 per cent).

Provinces on the east coast have struggled to retain professionals and manage public health care over the last few years. The crisis compounded with the burnout of physicians and nurses, and in some instances, has resulted in people not getting the care they need.

P.E.I.'s government said in February hundreds of staff and $100 million is needed to positively impact the province’s health care system.

A majority of Canadians (67 per cent) believe private entities are able to provide health care services faster than publicly funded institutions.

Ontario's Progressive Conservative government is attempting to implement more private partners in the province's health care system, a move critics say is a step towards privatizing health care entirely. The government has repeatedly pushed back against the idea of privatized health care.

About 52 per cent of Canadians agree access to private health care should be increased, the Ipsos poll found.Government spending on health care is something 54 per cent of Canadians believe is unsustainable. Quebec residents are more likely (64 per cent) to believe the spending is unsustainable.

Most Quebecers also agree (69 per cent) with their provincial government's proposition to open two "mini" hospitals managed by private companies. Quebec residents, according to Ipsos, say their health care system is "too bureaucratic" (83 per cent) and the system should be more decentralized (72 per cent) both issues that exceed the national average.

Alberta residents are divided, the Ipsos poll shows, on health spending accounts, a program that provides credits to pay or top up health, vision or dental expenses not covered by the government.

About 42 per cent agree, 38 per cent disagree and 20 per cent say they don't know about the policy.

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The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 3.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population.

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