Canadian Medical Association

Canadian Medical Association

August 10, 2006 13:52 ET

CMA: Patients and Physicians Agree... Canada Needs a Safety Valve

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Aug. 10, 2006) - Canadians and physicians agree governments must institute health care access benchmarks for wait times and create a publicly-funded "safety valve" to allow patients to seek access to care they need if benchmarks are not met.

In surveys of the general public conducted for the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) by Ipsos-Reid and a survey of physicians conducted by the CMA, 71% of Canadians and 68% of physicians recognized the need for wait time benchmarks. The two groups also overwhelmingly endorsed (84% and 85%, respectively) the principle of a health care safety valve that would provide patients access to care elsewhere (either in the country or outside the country) if they have to wait longer than what is medically acceptable.

"This is the strongest indication yet that Canadians understand the need for new guidelines and performance measures to make our health care system work better," said Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai, CMA President. "Canadians have told us they still believe in the principles underlying our national medicare system but they want governments to ensure those principles work for patients."

In addition to finding support for benchmarks and a safety valve, the poll also found strong support among the public (83%) and physicians (75%) for continued government coverage of all core (medically necessary) services.

"Much has been made in recent weeks about slipping priorities and flagging commitment to achieving real progress on wait times," said Dr. Collins-Nakai. "Nothing has changed for Canadians, nor for Canada's physicians. We need governments to address the country's number one priority: securing timely access to quality health care services."

Both physicians and the general public agreed (76% and 60% respectively) that if physicians provide both public and privately-financed services, they should spend a specific percentage of their total time working in the public system. While support for participation in the public system among physicians remains strong, they do not support the regulation of fees or work hours as a means of enhancing participation or improving quality care for their patients.

"Canada's doctors remain committed to providing high quality care regardless of a patient's ability to pay, as shown by the fact that 60% of doctors believe that physicians should work a specific amount of time in a public system," concluded Dr. Collins-Nakai. "The results of this survey show clearly that Canada's physicians remain squarely on the side of patients and we are committed to acting in their best interests."

You can access the Ipsos-Reid poll Canadian Views on Public-Private Care at

Contact Information

  • Canadian Medical Association
    Carole Lavigne
    Media Relations
    (613) 731-8610 or 1-800-663-7336 ext. 1266