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Majority of Canadians Want More Access to Private Health Care: Poll

As some provinces roll out plans to allow private clinics a greater role in the health care system, a majority of Canadians are on board, according to a new poll.

The Ipsos poll, commissioned by the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI), found 52 percent of respondents would like to see increased access to private health care.

Thirty-one percent disagree with offering increased access to private care, and 13 percent did not express an opinion.

Ontario and Quebec have recently announced plans to increase access to private health care using provincial health cards, so the government still pays the bill.


Ontario announced in January it would tackle the surgical waitlist of more than 200,000 patients—particularly for routine procedures such as knee and hip replacements—by partnering with more private clinics. Last month, Quebec began an initiative to build two privately operated, publicly funded “mini hospitals,” on in Quebec City and the other in Montreal.

Quebecers responded particularly well to increased private health care access in the poll, with 63 percent in favour and 23 percent opposed. Almost 70 percent favoured the mini hospitals project specifically and less than 20 percent opposed it.

“Quebecers are much more concerned about access to care than about the administrative structure of care facilities—and rightly so,” said MEI economist Emmanuelle B. Faubert in a release.

“For decades now, our monopolistic government-run health care model has only given us access to endless wait lists,” Faubert said. “We shouldn’t be surprised if Canadians, seeing what is possible elsewhere in the world, come to support mixed, entrepreneurial health care models.”

Two-thirds of respondents said private entrepreneurs could provide faster service than government-managed hospitals.

Addressing Concerns

When Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Sylvia Jones announced Ontario’s private clinic plan in January, they addressed concerns some Ontarians have about allowing more private involvement in the health system.

One concern is that thriving private clinics could draw needed staff away from public facilities. Jones said the application process for participation in the program requires clinics to outline their staffing plans.

“It will very precisely talk about the need to protect our public hospitals and ensure that they are not in any way impacted,” Jones said.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), the professional regulatory body for doctors, expressed concern about quality of care.

CPSO’s Dr. Nancy Whitmore said in a statement emailed to The Epoch Times in January, “Complex procedures such as hip and knee joint replacement surgeries should remain connected to the hospital system to ensure continuity of care and patient safety.”

Ford told reporters after the announcement he was surprised at CPSO’s reaction since it is already responsible for all doctors in Ontario, including those at the private clinics. CPSO declined to comment on Ford’s response.

Ipsos surveyed a sample of 1,164 Canadian residents in March, with demographic quotas ensuring a sample to reflects the overall population. MEI and Ipsos published the poll April 6.

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