Martin Barraud via Getty Images
"Don't touch my free health care," is a common refrain from defenders of the status quo whenever anyone broaches the topic of reforming Canada's health-care system. While politicians and interest groups no doubt share a portion of the blame for perpetuating the myth of a $0 price tag for health care in Canada, their ability to carry public opinion with them stems from the murky manner in which health care is funded.
Jochen Sands via Getty Images
Mr. Alexander, I turn to you for guidance on what to do the next time this patient comes to my clinic: a gay man who fled his country because it is a crime to be homosexual. This man who was beaten and persecuted by his community and his family. He is not able to work in Canada because he can not acquire a work visa and instead volunteers with local charities.
What we need is a health care system that's based on need, not ability to pay. But we also need social policies that create the conditions for good health. The evidence also shows us that lifestyle choices such as decreasing smoking, exercise and good diet increase proportionally to an individual's social and economic status.
Healthcare in Canada is anything but free. The average Canadian family of two parents with two children (similar to Walt's family in the drama) pays approximately $11,320 in taxes for hospital and physician care through the country's tax system, in addition to the cost of private insurance for things like dental care and outpatient prescription drugs.