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Health & Medicine

Canadians Willing to Seek Healthcare Across the Border

— March 22, 2024

Canadian citizens are crossing the border into the U.S. to be able to obtain care sooner.

As Canada grapples with persistent challenges in its healthcare system, a recent Ipsos poll has shed light on Canadians’ increasing willingness to seek medical care in the United States, even at personal expense. The findings discuss a growing dissatisfaction with prolonged wait times and accessibility issues plaguing the domestic healthcare industry.

According to the Ipsos poll conducted for Global News, 42% of respondents expressed a readiness to travel to the United States and privately finance routine health services, marking a significant 10-point increase from January 2023. Moreover, 38% of participants indicated a similar inclination for emergency care, reflecting a nine-point surge over the previous year.

Sean Simpson, vice-president of Ipsos Public Affairs, attributes this trend to Canadians’ mounting frustration with the lack of timely access to healthcare services rather than concerns about care quality. Issues such as prolonged emergency room wait times, delays in specialist appointments, and screening procedures have contributed to a sense of disillusionment among the populace.

The poll’s findings coincide with ongoing challenges faced by Canadian provinces, including shortages of healthcare professionals, burgeoning wait times for surgeries, and persistent emergency room backlogs. Health Minister Mark Holland has emphasized the need to address these systemic issues collectively, cautioning against the pursuit of private healthcare solutions as a panacea.

Canadians Willing to Seek Healthcare Across the Border
Photo by Anne Shvets from Pexels

While acknowledging the strains inflicted by the pandemic on the healthcare system, Simpson highlights the need for comprehensive reforms to address the underlying structural deficiencies exacerbated by the crisis. In response, the federal government has pledged significant funding to bolster provincial healthcare initiatives, aiming to mitigate the lingering effects of the pandemic and enhance healthcare delivery nationwide.

The Ipsos poll also looks into Canadians’ perspectives on healthcare funding and privatization. A notable portion of respondents advocates for increased federal funding to provinces, urging greater autonomy in healthcare expenditure decisions. However, sentiments regarding the efficacy of increased funding as a sole remedy for healthcare woes remain tepid, highlighting the need for enhanced transparency and accountability in resource allocation.

Furthermore, the poll reveals shifting attitudes towards healthcare privatization, particularly in Ontario, where discussions about expanding private healthcare services have gained traction. While the majority of respondents express support for privately funded healthcare options, apprehensions persist regarding the equitable distribution of services and potential ramifications on the public healthcare system’s integrity.

Ontario’s initiatives to facilitate private delivery of select healthcare services have sparked debates surrounding the optimal balance between public and private healthcare provisioning. Despite growing acceptance of privately funded healthcare solutions, skepticism lingers regarding the long-term implications of an expanded private healthcare landscape.

In light of technological advancements, the poll indicates a widespread endorsement of virtual healthcare services, showcasing the newfound appreciation for telemedicine promoted by the pandemic. With a majority of Canadians advocating for the expansion of virtual care options, there is a growing recognition of its potential to enhance healthcare accessibility and streamline service delivery.

The Ipsos poll offers valuable insights into Canadians’ evolving healthcare preferences and priorities, urging policymakers to heed public sentiments in shaping future healthcare policies and initiatives. As the nation works through its healthcare challenges, leading to a collaborative and inclusive approach to healthcare reform remains imperative in ensuring equitable access to quality healthcare services for all Canadians.


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