More than 95% of physicians, residents and medical students describe Canada’s health care system as “sometimes,” “frequently” or “completely” unable to meet the needs of patients, according to a new survey by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA).
Half of respondents rated health system performance as dangerous (31%) or failing (22%), with another 43% citing concern about delivering quality care.
Although patients and providers across the continuum of care have been facing critical staff shortages and backlogs, when asked to rank their top priorities for immediate health care investment, nearly 73% of physicians and medical students said they would prioritize primary care.
Respondents also identified other top priorities including health human resources planning (39%), mental health services (39%) and pan-Canadian licensure (30%).
As provincial and territorial leaders continue to negotiate health care funding with the federal government, more than 90% of respondents agreed that collaboration between all levels of government is key to improving Canada’s health care system.
“Canadians are beginning to question if their health systems will be there when they need them … Our various health systems are challenged in similar ways across the country; now is the time for collaboration, communication, and coordinated action to begin overcoming those shared challenges.”
— Dr. Alika Lafontaine, CMA president
More than 5,000 physicians and medical learners responded to the survey in November 2022.
Survey results echo a recent letter to the Prime Minister and Premiers signed by the CMA and 12 other medical associations, urging all levels of government to work together on the health systems crisis.
The CMA has recommended several steps to stabilize and rebuild health care, including scaling up integrated primary care models, removing regional barriers to medical practice and establishing a national health workforce strategy.