Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Canadians want feds to play strong role in health care: poll

JANUARY 16, 2012

A strong majority of Canadians believe the federal government has an "important" role to play in the country's health-care system and to ensure provinces are accountable for the money spent on medicare, according to a new poll.

The national survey by Ipsos Reid was commissioned by the Canadian Medical Association, which represents the nation's doctors.

It was released as the premiers gather in Victoria for a two-day meeting to discuss the health-care system. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not at the meeting, but his Conservative government has announced billions of dollars in long-term medicare payments that fall short of what the provinces had wanted, but which carry no conditions on how the funds are spent.

Among the poll's findings:

- 97 per cent of Canadians think the federal government's responsibility for the Canada Health Act is important. In return for receiving federal money, provinces must adhere to the principles of medicare as outlined in the Act. Those principles include accessibility to services, universal availability, and portability from province to province.

- 70 per cent say they are "worried that without accountability to the federal government, provinces will have no incentive to achieve health care efficiencies."

- 88 per cent are worried that "without national standards, Canadians will have different levels of health care depending on where they live."

- 74 per cent believe that health care is a shared responsibility between the provincial and federal governments. Few believe it is solely a provincial (13 per cent) or federal (11 per cent) responsibility.

- 56 per cent are not confident that the premiers will be able to agree on a plan to improve health care in Canada.

- 69 per cent "strongly agree" that they would encourage their premier to "adopt a series of principles that make the health-care system more concentrated on the needs of the patient."

The telephone poll of 1,000 Canadian adults was conducted Jan. 4-9. With a sample of this size, it has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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