Let’s talk: Canada’s Healthcare System

Damien Kurken Cutout

It’s long overdue to have a serious conversation about Canada’s healthcare system which takes into account both its successes and its failures. As we ask the tough questions, I want to provide important context regarding our healthcare system’s capacity. It is valuable to remember it had been operating at nearly full capacity long before COVID. COVID-19 prompted capacity concerns to become a national conversation.

In no way am I diminishing the work of our front-line health care workers, nor am I suggesting public health care shouldn’t be provided in Canada. I am also not suggesting this should be an Ottawa-centric discussion. Let’s not be quick to politicize or toss accusations in this conversation, but instead, let’s work together to ensure that our country has a world-class system that serves all Canadians. We must ensure our healthcare is based on a system that can withstand the pressures of any situation.

Canada’s healthcare system is unique in the sense that while delivery is provincial jurisdiction (being the largest item on most provincial budgets), it is partly funded by the Federal Government through a negotiated transfer. There is significant inter-provincial and federal collaboration in the various aspects of the system. Overall, Canadians generally have access to traditional medical care no matter where they are across Canada. It is also important to note that while Canadians don’t pay for care upfront, we do pay significant dollars through our taxes (and in some provinces, a health care premium) to facilitate the provision of care. It’s time for governments to realize that simply promising more money will not solve the problem.

As we face another wave of COVID-19, with the calls for tough measures to “curb the spread” to keep our health system from collapsing, let’s have a fair and open conversation. Let’s be creative; explore ways to provide better and more efficient care; ensure we integrate preventive and mental wellness into health; work on more efficient patient flow; make care and treatment more accessible and wholistic; truly figure out how to eliminate wait times; be fiscally responsible in our spending; and lessen the overloaded burden on those who are working so hard to provide good care to Canadians.

As we work together to ensure our healthcare system remains a source of national pride, politicians from all parties and levels of government need to have an honest and transparent conversation with themselves and all Canadians. We owe it to our nation’s future to do this, knowing the likelihood that we will face another health crisis in our lifetime.

It is an honour to represent the people of Battle River—Crowfoot and to ask the tough questions on this topic, I would ask for your advice. How do we fix Canadian healthcare? Please reach out to my office with your suggestions.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this column, you are encouraged to write Damien at 4945-50th Street, Camrose, Alberta, T4V 1P9, call 780-608-4600, text 403-575-5625, or e-mail damien.kurek@parl.gc.ca. You can also stay up to date with Damien by following him on social media @dckurek. If you are in need of assistance regarding a Federal Government program, or need assistance and don’t know where to turn, feel free to reach out to MP Kurek’s office.