Toronto, ON, May 8, 2019 — When asked what emotions describe how Canadians feel about the future of health care in the country, negative emotions (62%) far outweigh positive (38%), according to a recent Ipsos survey for the Canadian Medical Association. Nervous (22%), afraid (21%) and distressed (18%) are the emotions most associated with the future of health care. Women (29% vs. 19% men) and those over 35 (27% 35-54, 55+ vs. 15% 18-34) are more likely to attached very negative emotions to the future of health care in Canada.
Canadians are also pessimistic about the future of the health systems in their own provinces. Half (49%) have a negative outlook for the future of the health care system in their own province, compared to four in ten (41%) who have a positive outlook; one in ten (10%) indicate they don’t know enough to say. Those 35 and over (55% 55+, 53% 35-54 vs. 34%) are more likely to skew negative in their outlook on the future of health in their provinces.
Worries over the future of health care can largely be linked to what Canadians see as looming cuts, with two-thirds (65%) of Canadians worrying a great deal that governments may need to cut health care services to balance budgets. Issues of affordability is another source of concern, as over half (56%) worry a great deal that patients will eventually have to pay more for their health care services. Six in ten Canadians also say they worry a great deal about staffing and resourcing issues such as: long wait times (62%), the shortage of health professionals (60%), and crowded hospitals (59%).This worry over the future of health care in the country may translate into action at the ballot box during the upcoming federal election, as 6 in 10 (60%) Canadians say they will vote for the party they think has the best plan for the future of health care in Canada, with 2 in 10 (22%) agreeing strongly with this.
Health, Health Care and Issues of Affordability Weighing on Canadians’ Minds
Health also tops the list of what personally worries Canadians the most, with personal physical health and getting access to health services among the top five concerns:
- Personal physical health (35%)
- Making enough money to maintain the lifestyle I want (32%)
- Impact of climate change (30%)
- Getting access to health services (29%)
- Paying a mortgage/rent/bills (27%)
Along with the impact of climate change, issues of affordability round out the top five, with making enough money to maintain the lifestyle I want (32%) coming just behind personal physical health (32%) and close to three in ten (27%) Canadians citing paying mortgage/rent/bills (27%) as a top concern. As stated above, Canadians are worried they will eventually have to pay more for health care, which will only magnify issues of affordability if it becomes a reality.
Health care also tops the list of issues that Canadians worry the most about for the country, with over half (53%) indicating this is their top concern. Health of the economy (45%) and climate change (42%) round out the top three. Canadians 55 and over (65% vs. 51% 35-54, 39% 18-34) and women (60% vs. 47% men) are the most worried about health care.
Canadians were also asked to rate their economic and financial confidence at different levels (national, provincial, community, personal) and there seems to be a clear link between economic confidence and thoughts on the future of health care. Those with a negative economic outlook overall are significantly more likely to have very negative emotions around the future of health care in Canada (43% vs. 17% positive economic outlook) and are also most likely to be pessimistic about the future of the health system in their province (70% vs. 43% positive economic outlook).
Given this concern about health and health care, it is perhaps not surprising that when asked to rate how governments are currently doing on health and health care issues, less than half of Canadians rate performance as good across almost all issues. Ensuring timely access to physicians (52% poor/38% good), managing current health care budgets efficiently (49% poor/32% good), and ensuring all Canadians can afford medication (48% poor/40% good) are rated particularly poorly.
Atlantic Canada and Quebecers Show the Most Concern Over Health Care
Atlantic Canada residents (61% negative, 29% positive), Quebecers (55% negative, 37% positive) are the most pessimistic about the future of the health system in their provinces, while BC (48% positive, 41% negative) and Alberta (46% positive, 41% negative) are the only two regions where positive sentiments outweigh negative. Atlantic Canada residents (65%) are also most likely to cite health care as the issue that worries them the most for Canada, while this is lowest in Alberta (44%).
As the table below shows, Quebecers and those in Atlantic Canada are also most concerned about resourcing and delivery issues such as: shortage of health care professionals, long wait times, crowded hospitals. Those in Alberta and the Prairies tend to be less concerned.
Additionally, residents of Quebec (59%) and Atlantic Canada (57%) are also the concerned that patients will eventually need to pay more for health care. Ontario residents (57%) are equally worried about the potential for this, while Prairie residents (48%) and those in BC (51%) express lower concern. Atlantic Canada residents are also the most likely to strongly agree they will vote for federal party they think has best plan for future of health care in Canada (31%), while Alberta (16%) and Prairie (18%) are least likely to strongly agree.
About the Study
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between February 25th to March 4th, 2019. For this survey, a sample of 3,352 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±1.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.
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