Canada’s health care system, as it is known today, evolved from the universal health care program introduced in the province of Saskatchewan by it’s premier, Tommy Douglas. The goal was to develop a health care plan that was comprehensive, universal, portable, publicly administered and accessible.
Currently, Canada has a universal health care system that does not include prescription drugs, home care or long-term care, prescription glasses or dental care. Also, limited coverage is provided for mental health care. This means that most Canadians pay out of the pocket for these services or rely on private insurance.
Canada’s publically funded health care system is guided by the requirements of the Canada Health Act, which was established in 1984. The Canada Health Act specifies the conditions and criteria that each provincial health insurance program must follow in order to receive federal transfer payments. Each province has a provincially run government health program called Medicare, which follow the general guidelines of the federal Canada Health Act. In Ontario we have OHIP.
Health care was primarily the responsibility of the federal government. In 1996, when the Liberal federal government faced a large budget loss, health transfers and the transfers for other social programs were merged. This increased each province’s responsibility for the allocation of funding.
The Canadian health care system must continue to evolve as it faces new challenges. Some examples of such challenges are: the aging of the baby boomer generation and the associated costs of care of the elderly; the high cost of new technology (EMR and MRI imaging); the burden of costs related to preventable diseases such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes; increasing costs associated with mental health disease; increasing costs associated with cancers; physician shortages; escalating administrative costs; increasing hospital and drug costs.
It is estimated that 25% of health care costs are due to preventable illnesses. About 50% of cancer deaths are related to tobacco use, diet and lack of physical activity. Currently, 50% of adults and 20% of youth, in Ontario, are overweight. There is a direct link between obesity and type 2 diabetes. The costs to care for this type of diabetic in Ontario approximately 5$ billion a year. In Canada, the number of obese people is expected to triple based on current statistics.
It is well known