Canadian Medical Association

Canadian Medical Association

August 05, 2005 11:00 ET

CMA/Poll Shows Canadians and Doctors Optimistic That Supreme Court Decision Will Mean Shorter Wait Times

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Aug. 5, 2005) - A new poll conducted for the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) shows Canadians and doctors agree that the recent Supreme Court decision allowing access to private health insurance in Quebec will result in reduced waiting times for patients by increasing the availability of services.

Eight out of ten physicians (81%) and two-thirds of Canadians (65%) agreed the court decision will reduce waiting times for Canadians seeking health care.

But the poll also demonstrated divided opinion on whether the outcome of the ruling would be ultimately good for Canada's health care system, with only half of Canadians (52%) viewing the court ruling "favourably". More specifically, 43% of Canadians agreed with a statement that the ruling is a "good thing because it will allow individuals choice and the ability to control their own health care" while 54% believed the ruling was a "bad thing because it will ultimately weaken the public health system that so many people rely on".

"While Canadians remain divided, the poll shows that 83% of doctors in the country view the decision favourably, believing the decision will finally force the changes necessary to address the deficiencies of the current health care system, deficiencies patients face every day," said Dr. Albert Schumacher, President of the CMA.

Doctors were almost evenly split on the benefits of adding a stronger private component to the system (53% for versus 47% against), three out of four saw the Supreme Court decision as providing more choice to the public and the ability to control their own healthcare. The poll indicated that physicians have reservations as well. A majority of physicians (58%) feel that most of their patients will either not qualify for insurance or won't be able to afford private health insurance.

And in terms of ensuring the best health outcomes, a majority of physicians (88%) and Canadians (77%) favour a health care system where core services are funded by governments, and which includes a guarantee of timely access to services backed by adequate new resources rather than the status quo or a system with a private pay/insurance option.

"Canadians and their doctors continue to support a strong public system where access is based on need, not the ability to pay," added Dr. Schumacher. "But the fact remains that our system needs fixing and ensuring shorter waiting times is an essential first step. The CMA will continue to contribute to the national debate on the future of health care by providing solutions for consideration by both Canadians and their governments. We will also continue to press for real leadership within all levels of government to implement these solutions."

The CMA has shown leadership in the search for solutions on health, by co-chairing the Wait Time Alliance that established medically acceptable wait times for five key health services, calling for care guarantees to ensure patients can get the care they need, when they need it and by proposing solutions to Canada's critical shortage of health care professionals.

The public component of the survey involved telephone interviews among 1,006 adult Canadians between July 11 and July 15, 2005. A sample of this size obtains a ± 3.2% margin of error, considered to be accurate 19 times out of 20. Telephone interviews were conducted with 200 physicians between June 28 and July 18, 2005. A sample of this size obtains a ± 6.9% margin of error, considered to be accurate 19 times out of 20.

The Ipsos-Reid factum is available at or

Contact Information

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