Publicly Funded Provincial Health Benefits

Canadians enjoy the physical, emotional and financial security of public healthcare system. Similar to public education and public policing, health care is considered a public good with each province setting a minimum standard of health care for residences and funding that care. The standard is high enough for the vast majority of Canadians but those who prefer and can afford private health care have the freedom to access private clinics and private hospitals that are not funded by the province.

There are tremendous efficiencies in a single-payer health care system. The first benefit is a single source of supply with provincial governments representing patients negotiating with provincial medial associations representing physicians to determine standards of care and fees. The second advantage is a focus on preventing illness and injury since the stakeholders will be responsible for patients for a longer period of time than an employer or private health maintenance organizations (HMO).

The Canadian single-payer health care began in 1962 when the Premier of Saskatchewan negotiated with provincial physicians to pay for their fees for all residences. Doctors were free to charge patients directly or charge the government and patients were free to choose any doctor within the province. That momentous change meant that healthcare was no longer the privy of the rich but all residence could receive healthcare. Four years later, the federal government supported pubic health care by agreeing to pay 50% of the cost for provinces that met the standards of universality, comprehensiveness, portability and public administration.

Each province and territory manages the delivery of health care services through provincial legislation and public administration. The federal government uses the Canada Health Act to exercises control over health care by specifying the criteria and conditions that provincial health programs must meet. Failure to comply with the Canada Health Act would reduce federal funding of the provincial program or reduce tax room in the case of Quebec.

History of Federal Health Legislation:

  • 1958 Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act
  • 1968 Medical Care Act
  • 1984 Canada Health Act

Federal Criteria for Universal Health Care

  • public administration on a non-profit basis by a public authority appointed and accountable to the provincial government
  • comprehensive coverage of all necessary hospital and medical services
  • universally available to every resident of the province
  • portable from one province to another with coverage for those temporarily out of the province and a waiting period for new residence of no longer than 3 months
  • accessible equally to all residence without financial or other barriers

The following links relate to Canadian publicly funded provincial health benefits: