Health Care

Gregory P. Marchildon

in The Oxford Handbook of Canadian Politics

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780195335354
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Health Care

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The political and administrative organization of health care in Canada is marked by inherent complexity and diversity. Health care in Canada is not characterized by a single health care system; rather, there are many health care systems operating within the country. All levels of government, from the federal, to the provincial, to the territorial, and to local government, are involved at varying degrees in the administration, financing, and delivery of public health care. The private sector has a dominant role in health care as well. This involvement of the public and private sectors in the delivery of public health care and the line between public and private sectors within health care have remained hotly disputed issues. Political parties that are conservative and market oriented emphasize individual responsibility, the impact of incentives on individuals, and the limits of government funding, as well as the administering and delivering of health care. Political parties who are marked by a more social–moral ethos, on the other hand, highlight the role of collective responsibility, the obstacles to access to health care due to patient fees, and the administrative efficiencies of a single-payer public administration. In addition, there has been a debate on the role of the central government in a federation where the provinces have considerable authority and responsibility under the current constitution and where the unrelenting threat of Quebec secession has pushed the federation for asymmetrical administrative arrangements. This article discusses the politics of health care in Canada. It discusses the political history of Canadian health care, the contemporary political organization of the nation's health care, and the federal–provincial collaboration and conflict on issues of health care.

Keywords: health care; health care system; public health care; government; political parties; politics; political history; Canadian health care; contemporary political organization; conflict

Article.  7124 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Comparative Politics ; Public Policy

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