Canadian Healthcare System Overview

Last Updated on Dec 8th, 2016 | By | Category: Healthcare in Canada

Canadian Healthcare System Overview

Nowadays, there are many things we need to concern about. One of them is health. Health is a very important issue around the world. Once we get sick, we certainly need to treat it to hospital. Unfortunately, not all of us can have medical treatment due to financial problem. That’s why government created a healthcare system, which allows everyone to get a proper medication. There have been many great systems worldwide, and one of them is Canadian healthcare system.



Canada has been wordwidely known as a country which has one of the best healthcare systems. Of course it is not easy to get such rank for this nation. It has a long history until they created the Canadian healthcare system recognized by the world in present.

  • The History of the Canadian Healthcare System

Back in the 18th century, Canada only had hospitals which took care of the poor. It was in 20th century the government started to know about public health system. Unfortunately, they could not realize such system due to Great Depression, a time when people were struggling with their finance. Then in 1946, Canada began to enact a universal health coverage for the nation. From year to year the system was getting improved and spread to a numerous provinces. For example, the government in Saskatchewan created Saskatchewan Hospitalization Act, which let people to have a guaranteed free hospital care. In 1957, they passed the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act or also called as HIDS Act; and 10 provinces had agreed to join the program. The success of the health programs led the government to introduce Medical Care Act (Medicare) in 1966. Due to this system, it extended the cost-sharing of the HIDS Act which resulted the ability of each province to make a universal health care plan. In 1984, the Liberal government established Canada Health Act, which now guides the Canadian healthcare network.

  • How Is the Canadian Healthcare System Funded?

Now that we have learned a bit of the history, can you guess how the Canadian healthcare system is funded? Here are some interesting Canadian healthcare system facts about the fund. Their  program is a publicly funded system. It means that the people contribute to fund the program. In the meantime, they can receive the benefits as well. Furthermore, this system is set by the federal government. Of course not the whole population choose this health care as their health plan. Some of them prefer to apply the private ones because of personal reason (which we will discuss later).

  • How the Canadian Healthcare System Works?

Now let us try to get this Canadian healthcare system explained more deeply to you. We already know that the citizens together fund the program. But what for? The government intends to ease every single Canadian receiving all necessary medical services. For example, they can get preventative care, dental care, primary cares from physicians, and many more. That’s why all ten provinces as well as three territories in Canada run the system. By that, all citizens can have a health insurance to cover their expenses for medication. In addition, it is not difficult to apply it. With only a few of exceptions, they are all qualified regardless of whether they have bad medical history, low or average personal income, etc. What’s more is that the users do not need to concern about cost-sharing. The federal law guarantees that there is no such thing included in the services. 

The Problems with Canadian Healthcare

Nothing is perfect in this world, and that includes Canada’s medical care system. In spite of being approved as one of the best, there are some problems with Canadian healthcare.

  • Wait Times

One of the most criticized issues is the Canadian healthcare problems wait times. In medical world, there are two types of patients. One is an emergency patient, and the other is non-emergency. Logically, those who are emergency patients need an immediate medical treatment. That makes the non-emergency ones have to wait much longer to get a full attention. The problem is if they wait too long, there is a chance that their illness will get worse. In the worst case, their life might be threatened.

  • Unrealistic Fees

Although the health care program help people with their medical expenses, not all of them are covered. The user of the system still need to pay fees for some certain services, such as prescription drugs or optometry. However, the real issue here is that the fees can be very expensive. This is the reason why some people prefer to have a private healthcare insurance. The private health plans can cover such high-costly fees.

  • The Access to Rural Areas

This healthcare system may have run in 10 provinces of Canada. Nevertheless, it still has the lackness of access to rural places. People who live in the area cannot get the benefits of the program as much as people in the city. Consequently, they need to go to city centers in order to get a full medical facilities.



These are only a few of Canadian healthcare system issues. There are still some others of which several people have been criticizing. 

The Advantages of Canadian Healthcare System

Sure it has several flaws, but there are some advantages people can get from the Canadian healthcare system. Here are some amazing benefits they can enjoy as the registered user.

  • It Is Available for Everyone

When we say “everyone”, it is literally everyone. All types of people can get the access of the healthcare facilities. Whether you are unemployed, low-income employee, disabled, or a student, that does not matter at all. As long as you are a Canadian, the system will cover your medical fees.

  • Get Smart with Educational Program

Do you know how to always stay healthy? The answer is to get educated. Once you are in the system, there is an educational program which will teach you some lessons about health. This program aims to raise people’s awareness of their health. Moreover, people will learn about first aid or how to prevent some injuries. This program is surely very useful to everyone.

  • Special Care for People with Special Needs

One of the best parts from Canadian Medicare is that they also provide special facilities for people with special needs. Those special needs refer to elders, children, and also disabled people. Each of these people needs a special attention and care, and the healthcare system will give it to them. Furthermore, there is also a facility prepared for veterans. They will get any type of care they will need later in the future.

How Much Do Canadians Pay for Healthcare?

Just because your medical treatment is covered, it does not mean healthcare system makes every thing free. As we have mentioned before, Canadian healthcare system is a publicly funded program. So, the user of it will have to contribute to fund in order to obtain health insurance. But how much do they have to pay? The cost of Canadian healthcare is varied. It depends on some certain situations like family number.

According to a report by Fraser Institute in 2015, the family of four in Canada will have to pay $11,735 a year in taxes for their public health insurance. That is for the average. The poorest families will contribute $477 a year. In contrast, the wealthiest ones will pay $59,666 a year.

Looking from the last years data, it clearly shows that the payment amount is increasing. And it will be even higher in the next years. In addition, Statistics Canada reported that Canadians have payed $141 billion on health care. That makes each Canadian pays $3,961 a year. Of course not all of them contributed the payment as children are not responsible for that matter. But still, it startled everyone there when they realized how much the cost of Canadian healthcare they have paid for. 

List of Canadian Healthcare Companies

As we have mentioned at the first place, health is one of the most important issues. It is very crucial that there have been plenty of healthcare companies built around the world, including Canada. Here are some of Canadian healthcare companies which are quite big in the nation.

  • Cognitciti

As we get older, our memory power is slightly decreasing. What’s more shocking is that it is already began at a very young age. This is where Cogniciti shows their skill. This company was established in 2010 in order to help people reshaping their brain health. They provide a series of useful services. First, they can give an early assesment, diagnosis, and treatment for those who have memory concerns. Second, they have effective tools to cope memory loss. Third, they have a better support for people who deal with dementia. Last but not least, they try to keep their healthcare services affordable through technology and science innovations.

  • Dynacare

Formerly known as Gamma-Dynacare Medical Laboratories, Dynacare is a health solutions company which have been in business for more than 50 years. Its main service is medical testing which can give people, either patients or doctors, a better diagnose. The testing can also help them to understand as well as manage medical conditions. Furthermore, they have better improvement in recent years with some additional services. Those are mobile and advanced genetic testing, corporate wellness programs, and digital health. They also include a number of services for the insurance industry.

  • InterHealth Canada

InterHealth Canada is an organization whose specialization is to develop, commission, and manage Canadian healthcare facilities. It has been running since 1994 and employed for about 5000 professionals worldwide. This company aims to provide high quality medical services with an affordable cost. It currently has been in partnership with healthcare executives, cliniciants, physicians, administrators, and also consultants. In addition, InterHealth Canada also gained accreditaion from several healthcare organization, such as Canadian Accreditation, the Royal College of Surgeons, the American College of Surgeons, ISO Accreditation bodies, etc.

  • Ontario Telemedicine Network

Sometimes distance can be a trouble for us to get proper medical services. For instance, people who live in rural area must go to city centers to obtain medical treatment. This kind of issue created a special service in Canada called as Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN). The purpose of Telemedicine is to give a clinical health care at a distance by using telecommunication technology. The service is also available for rural communities which makes it more effective in saving lives. Moreover, there is also a customer care prepared specially for disabled people. There are three benefits people can enjoy from this service. The eCare allows you to get health support you need. The eConsult can connect your doctor with a specialist across the province so you can get the best care. The eVisit will give you an access to specialized care no matter where you live by using videoconferencing.

  • Extendicare

It is not easy to take care of elder or senior family member. It is because most of them need a special health attention and care. If you are looking for a solution to it, then Extendicare can give it to you. This Canadian healthcare agency has been experienced in caring senior community for nearly 50 years. With a number of qualified staffs, they commit to give the best care and service. The services they can provide for the residents are like retirement living, management and consulting, home health care, long term care, group purchasing, and workplace health and wellness.

  • Chartwell Retirement Residences

Similar with Extendicare, Chartwell Retirement Residences is also a Canadian healthcare agency specialized in caring the elderly community. The company has been running in 175 locations in four provinces, which makes it the largest senior healthcare company in Canada. There are many care options people can choose here. As an example, if your loved one is struggling with memory loss, then you may take their Memory Care (MC). This option is already complete with dining and lifestyle activities. The other options they have are Independent Living (IL), Independent Supportive Living (ISL), Assisted Living (AL), and many more. Besides care options, they also provide several services in the residences. You can either select care and wellness services, fee-for-service personal care programs, and ancillary services. Each of them has their own benefits for certain conditions of the elders.

These are only a few of Canadian healthcare companies. There are still some more of them you can find and learn. Each of these Canadian healthcare facilities may have different services, but their main goal is basically the same. And that is to serve people with the best medical treatment so they can live a happier as well as healthier life. 

Healthcare in Canada Vs. United States

As neigboring countries, Canada is often compared to the United States of America. That includes the comparison of both healthcare system. Can you guess which system is better? Let’s find it out together.

First of all, how each country’s program is funded is already different. On the one hand, Canadian healthcare is using publicly-funded system. The citizens contribute for payment together and receive the benefits of the system too. Since it is funded publicly, it makes the program becomes universal. It means that not a single of Canadian is left behind. All of them have a coverage for medical expenses. On the other hand, the US healthcare applies private system. The difference of it from the public one is that no government is involved here. The medical needs is managed by other organizations like insurance companies. If Canada can ensure that everyone get covered, almost 1 out of 5 non-elderly US citizens is uninsured. Of course not 100% of Canadians have the coverage from the government as some of them prefer private healthcare system.

The second thing from both healthcare system is their Gross Domestic Product or simply known as GDP. According to the 2015 statistic data by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the spending of the US program is more than the Canada’s. It is reported that the percentage of Canadian healthcare cost in 2015 is 10.1%. Meanwhile, the US has spent 16.9% in the same year. From the same data, it also shows that Canada performed better in two other health outcome measures. In life expectancy, Canada got 82.2% and US had 79.3%. In infant mortality rate, Canada got 4.9%, while US got 6.5%.

The third part is the waiting times. We have mentioned before that one of the weaknesses of Canadian healthcare system is the wait times. That goes the same with the US one. Although Canada’s wait times is worse, it does not mean the US’ is good. For example, according to 2010 survey by Commonwealth, it is said that 43% of Canadian had waited 4 weeks or more only to see a specialist, while it is 10% in the US. Still with the same survey, it shows that 39% in Canada and 31% in the US spent 2 hours or more in the emergency room. Those are only a few issues found in both healthcares. Some other wait-time concerns can also be found in diagnotic services (e.g. MRI or CT scans), surgeries, physician appointments, or hospital administrations.

The last point is the prescription drugs. Similar with the previous issue, people from both countries also complain how unequal the prescription drugs are. This can happen because the program of the drugs have been limited by Canada and United States. In Canada, all drugs in hospitals are already under Medicare, except for the prescription ones. Since there is no coverage, it means that they have to pay for it. However, most of them cannot do that due to the high cost of the drugs. In accordance with a study in 2005, it found that 20% of Canadians and 40% of Americans who were sick did not take prescription drugs as they were unable to afford it. This is another reason why people apply private health plans rather than the public one.

It is hard to decide which one is better than the other. Not to mention, the people from each country prefer their own nation’s healthcare. It is not surprising, though. Nonetheless, Canadian healthcare system seems much better. In the end, it was ranked 30th in 2000 by World Health Organization (WHO), while the US’ was ranked 37th. 

Is the Canadian Healthcare System Good?

Now after we have discussed so many things about medical care in Canada, it is time to conclude all of them. Now we know that the quality of Canadian healthcare is quite good. Its publicly-funded system is the main reason. This system makes every people there can give their contribution toward the fund. Moreover, they can also receive the benefits too. What’s more amazing about the program is that it spreads out to all ten provinces in the country. That makes everyone is able to have their health coverage, including the elders, disabled people, unemployed people, and family with low income. With these all advantages, it is fine to say how convenient the Canadian healthcare system is.

But, do Canadians like their healthcare system? The answer is yes. According to 2009 poll by Nano Research, 86.2% of the citizens are satisfied with the system. As a matter of fact, Strategic Counsel survey reported that 91% people prefer Canadian healthcare system than the US one. Sure that some Canadians take private health plans due to several weakness of the public system, but the rest of them still strongly support it. Besides, despite of its weaknesses like wait times, access to rural area, and prescription drugs, it has its own strengths. Like we said before, everyone is covered by the system. We can also get some educational program. And it provides special services to those who need special medical treatment.

But, there is one more truth about Canadian healthcare you need to keep in mind. This system is only available for Canadians. It means that it will not be eligible to people from overseas, especially international students. These students can own their health coverage by registering other medical insurance plans. So if you are not Canadian and intend to study in this country, you better remember this important part.

That’s all we can learn about Canadian healthcare system. To summarize, it is a good system considering the high quality it has. It may not be perfect, but it still can provide some great medical services to its users. Everything seems a lot easier with the program. After all it is one of the best healthcare programs in the world. So what do you think? Will you join it if you are a Canadian? Or is there other healthcare system from different country which you think is better than this one?

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