When it comes to Healthcare, Most Canadians (89%) Expect the Federal Government to Play a Leading Role – and Think that a First Ministers Meeting Needs to be Called as Soon as Possible to Address the Challenges Facing the Health System (92%)

Gap Between Perceived Level of Importance and Rating of Performance Suggests Ample Room for Improvement in the Eyes of Canadians

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Toronto, ON – Nine in ten (89%) ‘agree’ (57% strongly/32% somewhat) that ‘it is important that the federal government play a leading role in the transformation of the health care system’. Similarly, most (92%) ‘agree’ (57% strongly/35% somewhat) that ‘it is important that a meeting of the First Ministers be called as soon as possible to deal with the challenges facing the health care system’.

There appears to be a large gap in what Canadians perceive to be important health care services and initiatives, and their perception of whether or not the health care system is doing a good job dealing with these particular tasks, suggesting that there is ample room for improvement in the eyes of Canadians. Below is a table which represents the proportion of Canadians who believe that these items are very important, juxtaposed against the proportion who believes that the health care system is doing a good job at that task:

(Click to enlarge image)

Perhaps as a result of this perceived gap between importance and performance, nine in ten (91%) ‘agree’ (52% strongly/38% somewhat) that ‘Canada’s health care system is in need of transformation to better meet the needs of Canadians’. While changes to the health care system are already taking place, nine in ten (87%) ‘agree’ that ‘these changes at the regional level should be guided by a common policy so that all Canadians have equitable access to the same quality of health and health care services’.

A similar proportion (90%) ‘agrees’ (52% strongly/38% somewhat) that ‘any changes to the health care system must build on the five principles of the Canada Health Act – universality, accessibility, portability, comprehensiveness, and public administration.

But application of the principles of the Canada Health Act shouldn’t stop there, according to Canadians. Currently the Canada Health Act principles apply only to hospital and physician services, but 86% ‘agree’ (46% strongly/40% somewhat) that ‘these principles should also apply to other aspects of the health system such as prescription drugs, home care, and physiotherapy’.

Most (89%) Canadians ‘agree’ (54% strongly/35% somewhat) that ‘Canada needs national standards for health service quality and outcomes, for which both federal and provincial/territorial governments share responsibility. Moreover, a strong majority (85%) ‘agrees’ (42% strongly/43% somewhat) that ‘Canadians are best served when health professionals from various disciplines work with governments to ensure that health is considered in all policies’.

Moreover, the results indicate that the federal and provincial governments have their work cut out for them as most (70%) Canadians believe that it is possible to reform the health care system such that it accomplishes three objectives – a better experience for patients, better health for the population and better value for money. Just one in ten (11%) do not believe that this is possible, while two in ten (19%) aren’t sure whether it’s possible.

Forced to choose from among these three options, however, a majority (60%) would want the focus of this type of health care reform to be better health for all Canadians, while one quarter (23%) would focus on better experiences for patients. Just one in ten (14%) say the focus of such reform should be better value for money, while 3% don’t know.

If it were only possible for the government to achieve in the short term two of these three elements and drop one from its focus until after ten years time, Canadians are more split on which one should go by the wayside – for now. One in three (35%) believe that better value for money could be sacrificed in the short term, while one quarter (25%) say better experiences for patients and two in ten (17%) say better health for all Canadians could be sacrificed in the short term. One quarter (22%) are unsure of which element they could defer and tackle in ten years time once the greater priorities have been addressed.

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted between July 18 and 19, 2011, on behalf of the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Nurses Association. For this survey, a sample of 1,018 adults from Ipsos' Canadian online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and political composition to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/-3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had the entire population of adults in Canada been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Mike Colledge
Ipsos Reid
Public Affairs

About Ipsos Reid

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When it comes to Healthcare, Most Canadians (89%) Expect the Federal Government to Play a Leading Role – and Think that a First Ministers Meeting Needs to be Called as Soon as Possible to Address the Challenges Facing the Health System (92%)


Mike Colledge
President / Président, Canada
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 613 688 8971