Unfortunately, given the current government monopoly on healthcare insurance, the lack of appropriate incentives, and unwillingness to consider policies to reduce wait times that seem to have been successful in European countries with universal health care, it is entirely possible that Canadians may continue to experience some of the longest wait times in the developed world.
Expenditures on public health care in Canada appear to be slowing, raising the possibility that the health care cost curve is finally being bent and the system transformed. What does this mean? The economy will eventually recover and relax provincial health expenditure constraints, but federal health transfer growth will be reduced starting in 2017.
On November 22 and 23, Canada's premiers are holding an economic summit in Halifax. Stephen Harper was invited, but he's not coming. Harper's quiet absence at the first ministers' meeting in Halifax speaks volumes about his commitment to universal health care. Harper is well aware that his refusal to negotiate a 2014 Health Accord and the downloading of almost $40 billion will encourage provinces to charge patients out-of-pocket and bring in more for-profit services. This is the most expensive and least efficient method of delivering health care -- if you need proof, just look to our southern neighbours.
There has been much media attention on the government's decision to extend the Canada Health Transfer (CHT), but the consequences of this decision seem to be missing. Provincial governments were put in the ridiculous position of complaining about aspects of the decision even as they accepted the money.
Poverty and health go hand-in-hand. People in poverty are more likely to use the health care system because of physical and mental health issues or illness, and be more likely to face an early death. Stress, poor nutrition, inadequate housing, and unstable social environments are a few reasons for this.