Canada’s Health System is a bit different than that of the United States or other countries, and contains many levels of coverage. Canada has socialized medicine which is available to all permanent residents and citizens, and which provides basic coverage of medical and health needs. Beyond that there is also private access to health care which comes from either one’s employer (employer pays part of the health insurance), with the employee paying the balance, or offered by the province or territory. Depending on the plan chosen by the employer, the coverage of additional access to care might include coverage of: dental, pharmacare, therapy/counseling, private hospital room, travel insurance so one is covered outside of Canada, and basically anything not covered by the basic socialized medicine plan. Provinces and Territories can provide private coverage to their citizens as they choose. For example, Quebec offers pharmacare coverage while many other provinces do not.
The next level of coverage is for those which have the finances to pay for whatever they need with their own money. This is the public vs. private divide, more commonly defined as the two-tier health system. The issue is there should not be a private vs. public option, as those without the finances to purchase additional health insurance are left without. In some cases, doctors even opt to treat only those who can privately pay. So, the divide is those with the monetary means and those without; wealthy against the poor.
This needs to change and it is up to healthcare professionals, government bodies and every resident or citizen of Canada to speak up and advocate for change. In the following series I will discuss this system, it’s implications, and it’s possible solutions further.
Written by Victoria Brewster, MSW