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Globe and Mail

Canadians Back ‘Public Solutions' to Improve Care, Poll Finds

André Picard

An overwhelming 86 per cent of Canadians favour “public solutions” for bolstering medicare, according to a new poll.

The survey, commissioned by the Canadian Health Coalition, is being released Wednesday as a pre-emptive strike.

That is because the Canadian Medical Association, at its coming
general council meeting, plans to stage a high-profile discussion about
transforming medicare, and it will release its own poll on support for
privately delivered care.

Michael McBane, national co-ordinator of the Canadian Health
Coalition, said he has no doubt that poll will show strong support for
“privatization schemes” but the “language used in the CMA survey was so
vague and misleading that its results cannot possible be interpreted as
support for more for-profit medicine.”

He said that the outgoing CMA president, Robert Ouellet, operates
private medical imaging clinics and is promoting a personal agenda that
is out of step with Canadian values.

“Canadians have told us they want to keep our health-care system
public and to improve it with made-in-Canada solutions. They also have
told us they flat-out reject Dr. Ouellet's proposal to provide us with
American-style two-tier medicine,” he said.

In fact, Dr. Ouellet has explicitly rejected a U.S.-style system. In
a recent speech launching a new campaign entitled Time To Transform
Healthcare, he said: “The U.S. is a very poor performer. Why look to a
system that ranks below ours for lessons?”

Rather, Dr. Ouellet has actively promoted European-style health
care, with a mix of private and publicly delivered care. He is
particularly keen on “activity-based funding,” in which hospitals would
receive funding based on the number of patients they treat and their
efficiency. Currently, hospitals receive block funding.

The new poll, conducted by Nanos Research, surveyed 1,001 Canadians
between April 25 and May 03. The results are considered accurate within
3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Those polled were asked the following question: “Thinking about the
future of Canada's public health-care system, would you support,
somewhat support, somewhat oppose or oppose public solutions to make
our public health care stronger?”

A total of 86.2 per cent of respondents said they support or
somewhat support public solutions, while 8.2 per cent said they oppose
or somewhat oppose the approach. The balance, 5.7 per cent, said they
were unsure.

“With more than eight in 10 Canadians supporting public solutions to
make public health care stronger, there is compelling evidence that
Canadians across all demographics would prefer a public over a
for-profit health-care system,” said Nik Nanos, president of Nanos

A recent report by Health Canada, entitled Healthy Canadians – A
Federal Report on Comparable Health Indicators 2008, found that 85.2
per cent of Canadians were “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied”
with health-care services overall. That level was unchanged from 2005,
the last time the survey was conducted.

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