A Canadian Love Affair

Ask any Canadian, “What is the difference between Canada and the United States?”  Virtually every one of them will say “health care”.

A remarkable 96 percent of Canadians prefer their health care system to the U.S. model.  And this support is not simply a reflection of Canadian nationalism in the face of a very large neighbor, although Medicare certainly plays a central role as a defining national characteristic.”  Over the years, poll after poll has repeatedly demonstrated that health care is Canada’s best-loved social program.  An overwhelming majority of Canadians persistently say they want to keep their health care system.

In 1994, the Canadian government appointed a National Forum on Health to examine the current state and future possibilities of the health system.  The focus groups and surveys conducted by the forum found that “the provision of health care services continues to receive strong and passionate support” among Canadians.  Similarly, the president of a major polling firm reported recently that among government programs “only the health care system received approval from a majority of Canadians.”  He went on to point out that the support even crosses social class lines.  Otherwise strong differences in class values “don’t occur to the same extent in the area of health care, perhaps because everyone can see themselves as becoming sick at some point.

The current system is so popular that all Canadian politicians represent themselves as defenders of this sacred trust.  Perhaps more surprisingly, so do many corporations in the private sector.  Indeed, a major health insurance company has declared in a recent advertisement that it “believes strongly in the sanctity of Canadian Medicare.”…. This blog will be continued next week featuring exerts from the book, “Universal Health Care”.


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