Canada ranks lowest in health care access among wealthy nations

Survey reveals only 86% of Canadians have primary health care access, the lowest among 10 affluent countries

Canada ranks lowest in health care access among wealthy nations

In a study conducted by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Canada has been identified as the country with the least accessible primary health care among 10 affluent nations.  

This finding was disclosed in a report released on Thursday, as per The Canadian Press.  

The survey, undertaken by the Commonwealth Fund in 2023, involved participants from countries including Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, alongside Canada.   

Among Canadians aged 18 and above, 86 percent reported having a designated doctor or a medical facility they frequent for health care, a decline from the 93 percent recorded in 2016.  

This reduction suggests that approximately four million Canadian adults lacked access to primary health care in the previous year. This access rate in Canada was the lowest when compared to the surveyed countries, where the average accessibility rate stood at 93 percent.  

The Netherlands topped the list with 99 percent of its adult population having access to primary care in 2023, while the United States ranked just above Canada with an 87 percent accessibility rate.   

The study further highlighted Canada’s position at the bottom in terms of the ability of patients to secure an appointment with a doctor or nurse on the same or the next day. A mere 26 percent of Canadian adults managed to get prompt medical attention, a significant drop from 46 percent in 2016.  

The survey pointed out disparities based on income levels, indicating that Canadians with lower household incomes were more likely to be without a primary care provider compared to those with higher incomes.  

It also revealed that 39 percent of Canadians lacking primary care suffered from at least one chronic health condition, and 29 percent were on one or more prescription medications.   

The mental health of Canadians also featured in the 2023 survey, which linked the COVID-19 pandemic and economic challenges as contributing factors to a rising trend in mental health conditions.  

About 29 percent of Canadian adults reported experiencing depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues in 2023.   

The Commonwealth Fund, a US-based non-profit organization, finances these surveys to gather data from patients and healthcare providers across various countries, with the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) serving as the Canadian collaborator.  

The research involved interviews with 4,820 individuals in Canada between March and August 2023.