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Canadian Health Care System

Author: Joe Macmillan and Irma Mac Millan

Published: 2008-12-31 : (Rev. 2013-06-13)

Synopsis and Key Points:

Tommy Douglas accomplished the establishment of Canadas Universal Public Health Care system.

Main Digest

A couple of years ago the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation held a television series attempting to nominate the most influential Canadian ever. The winner would earn the title The Greatest Canadian Ever. Many names were put forth over the weeks leading up to the final, and in the long run the winner was Tommy Douglas.

Tommy Douglas was the premier of Saskatchewan for 17 years but never Canada's Prime minister. Among his many accomplishments was the establishment of Canada's Universal Public Health Care. Among his claim to fame is the fact he is the grandfather of Kiefer Sutherland the actor.

Canadians have him to thank when they are suddenly taken ill or must visit their doctor for an ailment.

Here are the seven reasons why they love/hate it.

The plan is universal. Canadians are covered wherever they live in Canada.
Each province has it's own care card. Once a resident moves from one province to another all they need to do is to register, have their photo taken and they are issued a new card.

It is very inexpensive. No it is not free. A tax of 7 or 8 percent is collected on nearly everything we purchase. Automobiles and homes are exempt as well as children's clothing and some food products.

Show your health care card and you are into the hospital now.

Arriving at a hospital or medical clinic Canadians are asked for their hospital care card. This will act as proof of coverage and the admittance procedure carries on.

Almost every medical test and procedure is covered.

Not everything is covered. For instance if a person is hearing impaired and requires extensive testing by an audiologist before being fitted for a hearing aid, this in exempt. A portion of the aid may be covered. However, if the problem has resulted in the patient being profoundly deaf they may be a candidate for a cochlea implant. This procedure can cost as much as $50,000. And is provided free under the program.

Cosmetic procedures such as wart removal, breast implant, plastic surgery are not covered. Certain blood tests are not covered. If a specialist requires sophisticated testing procedures in an attempt to discover the reason for a pulmonary emboli they may ask for eight or more complicated blood tests to be carried out. Some of these are exempt.

Coverage works in strange ways.

A friend had contracted glaucoma. Over the years she required many visits to the specialists. Eventually she required a cornea transplant. All of these procedures were covered. She then developed a cataract on her other eye. The plan covered the operation and the new lens. The lens coverage was based upon provision of an older type. The new and improved type cost was $300. And was not covered.

Because the health care plan is regulated by the government, bureaucracy shows it's ugly head.

Waiting lists are long and wait times for certain procedures are equally long. For instance, in New Brunswick, a person requiring heart a bypass procedure may wait for up to six months. A knee replacement in Ontario takes about the same. These waiting times are expected and those in need should prompt their doctors to be proactive in diagnosing the problems and gaining access to the waiting list at the earliest possible instance.

The Canadian Universal Health Care Plan may not be perfect but it is one every Canadian citizen can be forever thankful.

Reference: Joe and Irma Mac Millan have enjoyed the Whistler Mountain and valley area of British Columbia for many years. They have camped, hiked and skied the mountains and fished and kayaked the rivers and lakes. Their website Whistler-outdoors ( is a must for anyone considering a trip to Whistler as well as the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. They invite one and all to take a look.

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