Health care Canada: Issues with access to timely care

Two out of five Canadians say they were unable to access essential health care services in the past six months, according to a new Angus Reid report.

The study that surveyed nearly 3,500 Canadians and Americans combined also found that Canadians’ trust in our health care system is now lower than Americans’ trust in them, with Americans reporting less problems accessing care.

This data comes amid growing reports of emergency department closures, backlogs of surgeries, long wait times and hospital staff bleeding as Canada’s healthcare system struggles to maintain itself. Canada’s universal health care system has long been a source of national pride, but with the pandemic exacerbating existing staffing problems, experts say cracks in our system I have been ignored for too long.

This new study scored Canadians’ responses and sorted them into three categories that reflect their overall level of access to care – those with comfortable access, those with some difficulty. in accessing care and those with chronic diseases who have difficulty accessing care.

Only 15% of Canadians surveyed fit into the comfort-access tier, the researchers found, while 31% reported experiencing challenges and 29% experiencing chronic hardship, the researchers found. found that.

The remaining 26% of Canadians surveyed did not claim access to health care during the six-month period that the survey scrutinized.

When applied to Canada’s broader population, this means that up to 18.7 million Canadians could have difficulty accessing health care.

According to the study, the damage to Canada’s healthcare system is also underlined by survey data from Americans, who are currently less likely to report problems when trying to access care. health care.

When asked about how confident they are about their ability to get emergency care, only 37% of Canadians are confident they can access urgent care in a timely manner, compared with 70% of Americans. surveyed.

It is important to note that surveys focus on access to care, not clinical outcomes, and do not provide a measure of the quality of care patients receive.


The study included data collected in two online surveys in August 2022 – one including 2,279 Canadians who are members of the Angus Reid Forum and the other including 1,209 Americans is a member of the American Angus Reid Forum. The Angus Reid Forum is an online public opinion research platform.

Specialist appointments or surgical procedures are the most difficult types of health care for Canadians to access – more than half of those who request this care have difficulty accessing and 5% said they couldn’t get the appointment or surgery they needed.

Non-emergency diagnostic and therapeutic tests are more easily accessible, but high percentages remain difficult, with 41% of Canadians having difficulty accessing testing.

Research shows that young people also face more barriers to accessing specialist appointments or getting diagnostic testing. About 70% of people who have found it difficult or impossible to access a specialist appointment in the past six months are between the ages of 18 and 34.

The study also looked at community impacts beyond individuals.

Most Canadians know a friend or family member who has struggled with the health care system recently – according to the data, nearly three out of four Canadians know at least one person who has received inadequate medical care. enough within the past six months.

About 57% of Canadians say their friends or loved ones have had to wait a long time to get an appointment, and a third of Canadians surveyed reported that they knew someone who had to wait. long to get emergency care.

Half of Canadians said this inadequate care caused serious health consequences for the loved one in question, the survey found.

Amid this uncertainty, Canada’s confidence in the healthcare system appears to be plummeting, the researchers found, with 61% reporting they are not confident they will be able to access it in time. with aid in case of emergency.

The study noted that confidence levels were lowest in Atlantic Canada, where 27% said they had absolutely no confidence that emergency care would be timely and 38% said they were not so confident.

In contrast, the US portion of the data shows that surveyed Americans are less likely to report difficulty accessing care and more likely to be confident that they can access care in a timely manner.


Research says Canadians are almost three times more likely than Americans to say a loved one can’t get a diagnostic test and four times more likely to report that a loved one can’t get surgery. While 40% of Americans surveyed found accessing urgent care “very easy,” only 13% of Canadians said the same.

This comparison is notable because in the past, Canada has consistently surpassed the United States in rankings of healthcare systems worldwide.

Even if Canada underperforms other high-income countries in a Commonwealth Fund 2021 report, the country still scores significantly higher than the US, where the private healthcare system has long been criticized both internally and internationally for the financial burden it imposes. on the patient.

In this new study, the researchers note that while U.S. healthcare remains largely a private, user-paying system that prioritizes the rich, recent efforts by US President Joe Biden’s administration has expanded health care coverage, with uninsured rates hitting an all-time low of 8% in the first quarter of 2022.

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