Saturday, July 11, 2009

Views on Health Care

A new poll has been posted on the Harris-Decima site concerning Canadians' views of the healthcare system. Do you remember that issue? It was tops for Canadians before the economic downturn.

The first question in the poll simply asks whether the system works very well/fairly well or not very well/not well at all. Overall, 70% of Canadians said that it works well and 28% said not well. At 77%, Ontario and the Prairies feel it works best. At 52%, Quebecers are least likely to think it works well. But, it is still a majority opinion.

Harris-Decima breaks opinions down by party as well, which is why I wanted to post about it. Those who feel the healthcare system works best are Liberals, at 76%. Surprisingly, Conservatives are next at 73%. The idea that Conservatives are most critical of the system isn't backed up by this poll. Not surprisingly, Bloc Quebecois supporters are least likely to say the system works well, with only 51% saying it does. Next least likely are NDP supporters, nevertheless still at 65% saying it works well. Bottom line: Canadians like the healthcare system. That, in and of itself, is the most surprising thing to come from this poll.

The second question asked people whether they thought the Canadian or American system was superior. Only 8% chose the American to 82% who chose the Canadian. That fits what is generally thought to be the case, that Canadians are highly critical of the American way of delivering medical service. Quebec, again, bucks the trend with 19% choosing the US system to 69% choosing the Canadian.

By party, Bloc supporters choose the US system the most, at 18%. Next are the Conservatives, at 12%. Only 6% of Green and Liberal supporters believe the American system is better, while a whopping 1% of NDP supporters agree.

The last question asked whether the system needs more public coverage, has the right balance, or needs more fees (more pay-per-use care). This is a useful question as it tracks support of a social safety net vs. privatisation. Somewhat surprisingly, 55% of Canadians believe the system should be more public while only 12% want more privatisation. 27% say things are fine the way they are. Atlantic Canada, at 64%, is the biggest supporter of a deeper nationalised healthcare system. At 16%, Quebec is most supportive of more privatisation.

By party, the NDP is by far most supportive of more public care: 73%. This makes sense, as the NDP is a socialist or social democratic party. Next is the Greens with 58%, the Liberals at 55%, the Tories at 53%, and the Bloc at 47%. It is interesting to note that a majority of Conservative supporters are nevertheless supportive of a more expansive welfare system.

It is less surprising to see that Conservative supporters are most in favour of more privatisation. However, it is still a very small number, at 16%. The Bloc is next at 13%, the Liberals and Greens are at 10%, and the NDP at 4%.

It should be noted that on this issue the Greens and Liberals are very similar. Perhaps this is a demonstration that the Green Party is far more centrist than what is imagined. The across-the-board Bloc criticism of the healthcare system has more to do with the troubled state of the system in Quebec than an ideological belief. The Bloc is actually quite supportive of the healthcare system - not because it works, but because it is the best kind of system to have. And for all the rhetoric from both sides, Tory supporters aren't significantly more critical of our system or supportive of privatisation than other Canadians.