Canada’s Health Care is Anything but Free

Canada has a universal health-care system that is governed by the Canada Health Act. Some people believe it is ‘free’ health care, but it is paid for by everyone who pays taxes: Federal taxes, Provincial taxes, and in some Provinces, an additional health insurance premium. Canadians don’t, however, have any idea how much the services they consume cost, since the CHA prohibits providers from showing patients a bill.

The 10% of Canadian families with the lowest incomes will pay an average of about $496 for public health care insurance in 2018. The 10% of Canadian families who earn an average income of $66,196 will pay an average of $6,311 for public health care insurance, and the families among the top 10% of income earners in Canada will pay $38,903.
– The Price of Public Health Care Insurance, 2018 Fraser Institute –

The Federal money flows to the provinces or territories if they meet these requirements:
– Administration of provincial health insurance must be carried out by a public authority on a non-profit basis.
– All necessary health services, including hospitals, physicians and surgical dentists, must be insured. In addition, all physicians, hospitals, etc, must be provided reasonable compensation for the services they provide.
– All Canadian citizens or permanent residents are entitled to the same level of health care, after they have applied for the insurance in the Province or Territory they live in.

Many people also purchase Private Health Insurance to cover services that are not covered by their Provincial plan. These include things like dental services, optometrists, physiotherapy, ambulance and prescription medications.

In addition to public health care providers, private clinics are becoming more prevalent. They offer specialized services, and in some cases, quicker access to services that are also offered in the public system.

Private clinics are a subject of controversy with those who believe it favors those with higher incomes. Others see these clinics as a good option, since Canada’s public health system is increasingly being criticized for long wait times for diagnostic, treatment and emergency room services. Additionally, inadequate numbers of first line clinics and family physicians create a situation where patients use emergency rooms for services that could be performed by a Doctor in their community, if they had access to one.

Another alternative to Canada’s Public system and Private Clinics are a large number of treatment options available in the United States or other countries. The Fraser Institute, Canada’s public-policy think tank, estimated that more than 52,000 Canadians received medical treatment outside of Canada in 2014.


5 thoughts on “Canada’s Health Care is Anything but Free

  1. This was exactly the topic of conversation with some friends recently. We assume that all Canadians get the same health care when in fact it varies from province to province. Nor are we entitled to ‘free’ health care outside of our resident province.

    As athletes participating in races around the world, we were always careful about having international health coverage when we traveled, however had we encountered a problem in another province, I have no idea what the implications would have been.
    We’ve been careful to educate our sons accordingly who are now also racing – sometimes outside of our home province.


    1. Medical coverage is an important topic! We are part of the ‘Snowbird’ set of retirees and have seen how this issue affects travel for seniors. Fortunately we still have the ability to purchase insurance through my husbands former employer, and that is much more affordable than other travel insurance.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My husband is still working so we continue to have coverage through his job. We haven’t even begun to have those conversations about what happens after he’s retired.


  2. Thanks for speaking the truth so forthrightly, Margy– and just doing that seems to be an increasingly dangerous thing in Canada. Frightening to think you can voice an opinion, have it declared “hate speech,” and be sent to prison. Political correctness, thy name is tyranny– and that’s no joke.


    1. I’m not sure about the rules for hate speech, but I’ll be curious to see what happens with anti-government speech. According to the 2018 list of Canadian terrorists, Right-wing extremism includes an activity called anti-government. We have a left wing government right now. If we had a right-wing government, would an anti-government activity now be called Left-wing extremism!?

      Liked by 1 person

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