A poll released this week by the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) and Leger shows that a significant majority of Quebecers are open to the prospect of private sector delivery of healthcare services within a universal system.
“The results of this poll are clear: Quebecers are willing to have the private sector play a larger role in the provision of health care without calling into question the system’s universal nature, rather than continue to throw money at the problem,”said Germain Belzile, MEI Senior Associate.
The poll put the question to more than 1000 Quebecers of whether they would favour increased access to medical care offered by private sector entrepreneurs, with government still footing the bill. In other words, a universal system in which funding follows the patient and private sector providers compete for government healthcare dollars.
Dissatisfaction with government healthcare
To this question, a total of 70% of respondents were in favour of the opening up of the healthcare market (40 % somewhat agree, 30% completely agree), compared to just 21% opposed (14% somewhat disagree, 7% completely disagree). This public sentiment seemingly stems from a dissatisfaction with the current government management of the healthcare system. The poll also found that only 22% of Quebecers believe that additional healthcare funding added by government in the last 10 years has achieved positive results, compared to 64% who believe that more money thrown at the system has not had a positive effect.
MEI Public Policy Analyst Patrick Déry notes that Canada is unique among western nations in limiting delivery of healthcare in a universal system to a government monopoly. “Quebecers’ support for entrepreneurship within a universal health care system is no surprise. That’s how it’s done almost everywhere in Europe, where access to health care is better than here. Election candidates, who are outdoing each other with all sorts of promises, should take note.”
No healthcare election promises in Quebec
However, to this point in the Quebec provincial election campaign it does not seem that those vying for control of the state-run healthcare system have offered a serious response to the public sentiment in favour of a diversified access to services. The four major parties have either yet to release comprehensive healthcare platforms or are promising to increase funding or somehow discover a better and more efficient way to manage the government monopolized system.
Belzile is skeptical that efficiencies are to be found with the maintenance of the government monopolized status quo. “If we had private companies competing with the public sector… we would discover the better ways of doing things. A monopoly is never a good way to discover what patients want and what are the best ways of doing things.”
Quebec residents will go to the polls in less than a month on October 1.