Expand universal coverage of public health care

The issue:

Universality unfulfilled: The Canada Health Act sets out the primary objective of Canadian health care policy is to protect, promote and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada and to facilitate reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers (Tiedemann, 2019). But for many residents, access to public health care is out of reach.

Gaps in coverage: One-in-five Canadians do not have private insurance for dental care, prescription medicine, and other needs – especially recent immigrants, racialized people, and those in lower-income, typically non-unionized jobs. People with precarious immigration status face uneven access to public health care, such as temporary foreign workers, international students, and undocumented residents of Canada.

Encroaching means-testing: The welcomed arrival of the Canadian Dental Care Benefit (CDCB), which targets uninsured, lower income household, also unfortunately introduces means-testing into public health care. The CDCP will benefit 9.8 million people, but leaves behind unfairly another 4.4 million people by restricting access to only uninsured people in households earning less than $90,000 per year (Macdonald, 2024).

The solution:

Health care for all: Work with the provinces and territories to provide public health care to everyone in Canada, including temporary foreign workers, international students, and residents regardless of immigration status.

Public dental care: Remove the $90k household income means-test for the Canadian Dental Care Program and provide an additional $1.45 billion per year in Budget 2024 to cover the remaining 4.4 million people without access to private coverage.

“Participants were asked to name the best and worst things about the Canadian health care system. The best things mentioned always included the concept of universality.”

Health Canada. (2022). Canadians’ Priorities for Primary Health Care – Final Report. Retrieved from: https://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2022/sc-hc/H14-395-2022-eng.pdf

Macdonald, D. (2024, January). Missing Teeth: Who’s left out of Canada’s dental care plan [study]. Available from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives website: https://policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/missing-teeth

Tiedemann, M. (2019). The Canada Health Act: An overview. Retrieved from The Library of Parliament website: https://lop.parl.ca/sites/PublicWebsite/default/en_CA/ResearchPublications/201954E#ftn1

Read more:

Canadian Health Coalition. (February, 2024). Parliamentarians’ Briefing Note 2024 https://www.healthcoalition.ca/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/English-Parliamentary-Briefing-Note.pdf