Why it’s so hard to reform Canadian health care: U of T’s Danielle Martin in the New York Times
Canadians and Americans are often fixated on each other’s health systems – so much so that it makes it hard for Canadians to admit and discuss our own system’s failings, writes Dr. Danielle Martin in a New York Times oped.
“More robust dialogue is needed to really tackle these important problems – but the long American shadow chills our discussions," writes Martin, an associate professor of family and community medicine at the University of Toronto and the vice-president for medical affairs and health systems solutions at Women’s College Hospital. "Fear of an American-style market-based system inhibits a national conversation about how to expand the breadth of coverage and increase the timeliness of services.”
Martin was a lead author of two commissioned papers in a recent issue of The Lancet, which examined the Canadian sytem of universal health care and role in global health. She also made headlines in 2014 for defending the Canadian health-care system before a U.S. congressional committee. A YouTube video of her testifying before Congress has been viewed more than 1.5 million times.
In the New York Times article, she cites many examples of the Canadian system’s problems: the lack of pharmacare in most provinces, the poor access to health care for Indigenous Peoples and for many Canadians who live in remote areas, and long wait times in many parts of the country for elective surgery, hip replacements and MRIs.
“In truth, neither country performs as well as it should aspire to do,” Martin writes. “For our part, Canadians must tackle a culture of incrementalism that stops us from expanding services and improving how they’re delivered.”