Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Canadians Losing Faith in Health System

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Canadians losing faith in health system: poll
CTV.ca News Staff
Updated: Mon. Aug. 16 2004
2:21 PM ET

Public confidence in the health-care system appears to be eroding,according to a poll from the Canadian Medical Association.The poll, conducted by Ipsos-Reid, asked 1,057 Canadian adults to give anA, B, C, or F grade to various aspects of the system.About 59 per cent gave the system a grade of A or a B. That's down from 67per cent last year and 65 per cent in 2001.While the quality of medicare earned a B overall, the proportion of C andF grades jumped by eight percentage points compared with a similar pollcommissioned by the CMA last year. Forty one per cent of respondents gavethe system C or F grades -- the most since the CMA began the gradingexercise."The confidence of Canadians is being eroded constantly as our politicianssquabble over health care," CMA president Dr. Sunil Patel told Canada AMMonday."Canadians really have given very low marks to the health care system. Andas a practising physician, I see that every day. The care that we are ableto give to patients is not as good as it was four years ago or 10 yearsago," said Patel, who has a family practice in Gimli, Man.What's more, the poll found that just 45 per cent of respondents havefaith that their children or grandchildren will enjoy the same quality andservice that they do today.Patel says Canadians want essential services improved, shorter waits forsurgery, more family physicians, and prompt diagnosis and treatment ofcancer."Ask any health care provider: We are unable to provide access to care ina timely manner. Waiting lists are getting longer and patients aresuffering," Patel says."We need more doctors, more nurses, more technologists. We also need moreinvestment in our hospitals, the infrastructure is crumbling. Just travelacross the country and you'll see emergency rooms that are crowded."The poll suggests most Canadians believe that Ottawa and the provinceshave not been focusing on those priorities. Almost 75 per cent ofrespondents said the federal government is not pulling its weightfinancially; 91 per cent said Ottawa can afford to put more dollars intothe system.As for the provinces, 78 per cent said the provinces also are in aposition to cough up more money.At a meeting in Niagara-on-the-Lake last month, Canada's premiers calledon Ottawa to raise its share of medicare funding to 25 per cent of overallspending from the current 16 per cent, a request that adds up to anadditional $4 billion.The premiers are to meet with Prime Minister Paul Martin next month.Patel says the CMA will decide this week during their annual meeting inToronto what they will request the premiers achieve during the Septemberconference. meeting.The poll was conducted between July 9-12 with a margin of error for thepoll's overall findings is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 timesout of 20.Quebec Health Minister Philippe Couillard says he's aware the health-caresystem has to be improved, but he believes that people are generallysatisfied with the quality of care they're getting.Couillard says that expectations are infinite when it comes to in healthcare and there's no health care system that satisfies everyone.