Report offers snapshot of Canada’s strained healthcare system

We’ve heard the warnings — staff shortages, long wait times, and difficulty accessing primary care — and a new report is offering a snapshot of the “enormous strain” on the healthcare system across Canada.

Taking the pulse: A snapshot of Canadian health care, 2023, is the result of a commitment the federal and provincial governments made earlier this year to improve healthcare in four priority areas, things like better access to primary care and mental health and substance use treatment, increasing the supply of healthcare workers and decreasing backlogs for surgery and other services.

Highlights from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) include that 88 percent of Canadians aged 12 and older reported having a regular healthcare provider.

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Also, half of Canadians who required community mental health counselling received a first appointment in less than a month, while 1 in 10 waited about 4 months.

The report also looks at how to modernize healthcare information systems and digital tools to fix the patchwork currently used to share health information.

“We know that there are gaps in Canada’s health care systems, but there are also improvements happening every day,” said Kathleen Morris, vice president of research and analysis for CIHI.

“This report provides a look at challenges that exist around the country. Over the coming years, transparent public reporting using comparable data from modernized health systems will be an important aspect of the improvement effort. It’s an important step in working with all levels of government.”

While the report says governments are working to turn things around, it acknowledges the problems are big and complex and that Canadians are worried.

Only 60 per cent polled earlier this year rated the quality of the health care they and their family have access to in Canada as “good.”

That is a drop from 72 per cent in 2020, during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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