Most Canadians fear for health system: report card
Most Canadians are concerned about the future of health care in this country, finds a new report card from the Canadian Medical Association.
The survey found 80 per cent of Canadians worry that the quality of health care will decline in the next two to three years. They also fear the strain of aging baby boomers will be too much for the system to handle.
Another three-quarters of people are worried they won't be offered the same level of health coverage that they once did as baby boomers start to retire.
Dr. Anne Doig, the outgoing president of the CMA, calls the survey results "a refreshing acknowledgement of reality."
"Canadians are aware that there are issues and concerns that they must address," Doig told CTV's Canada AM from Niagara Falls, Ont., where the CMA is holding its annual meeting.
She says Canadians are right to be concerned about the future of their health care, because if the status quo remains, the imminent "silver tsunami" of aging baby boomers could badly strain the health system.
"It's true if we do nothing, then there will be a major crisis coming at us," Doig said, adding: "We have the opportunity to plan for that crisis and to do something to prevent it from becoming a crisis."
Doig noted that baby boomers are now in their 60s and will soon face the diseases of aging.
"We have to recognize that there is a population bulge – and it's my age group – that is going to live at least another 25 or 30 years. They're very healthy people now. But as we get older, we get frailer and we get sicker, and those needs will need to be met," she said.
"The generation behind us is a smaller group of people, so that means strain on the workforce and a strain on the economy."
The survey, conducted by Ipsos Reid, found that along with concerns over the quality of health care, Canadians are also concerned about how the country will pay for increasingly expensive health-care services.
The survey found 76 per cent of Canadians are worried they will have to pay more taxes so the health system can provide services to the baby boom generation.
About 73 per cent fear they won't have enough money to maintain their own health as they age -- topping concerns over being able to afford retirement (68 per cent) and losing a job (38 per cent).
The bulk of Canadians polled believe governments need to step up to bring about change. Some 85 per cent agreed that challenges brought on by the aging population signal that the time has come for federal, provincial and territorial governments to negotiate a new health-care funding agreement.
While those surveyed are clearly concerned over health care's future, the report found little change in public views concerning access and government handling of the health system.
In this year's report card, 75 per cent of Canadians gave an A or B grade for quality of health-care services available, versus 74 per cent in 2009.
A full 41 per cent assigned the federal government either an "A" or "B" grade on its performance, compared to 40 per cent in 2009. The same percentage of Canadians gave their provincial governments either an A or B grade, compared to 42 per cent last year.
The CMA cautions that the "similarly middling grades" for both Ottawa and the provinces translates into uncertainty among Canadians concerning whether health-care services will improve or worsen in their communities over the next two or three years.
The report found 35 per cent of respondents believed services would get better, while 51 per cent said they would get worse.
Every year since 2001, the Canadian Medical Association has asked Ipsos Reid to measure public opinion on the viability of the Canadian health care system. The poll, conducted completely online, surveyed 3,483 Canadian adults in June. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.66 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.