BACKGROUND TO THE CANADIAN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM:
Federalism and the healthcare system: under the Canadian constitution health care falls
largely under the authority of the provinces. Only provincial governments have the power to
pass laws governing the financing and delivery of health services. This is the reason for the
variety of provincial healthcare policies. Although the provincial polices are unique the
government spends “10’s of billions of dollars annually to support all of them”. Funding is given
if the provinces meet the Canadian health act.
Primary Care services (supplied by government): are largely provided by independent family
doctors, community health clinics or telephone health information lines. Primary health care
serves two main functions; direct provision of first contact services (ex: injuries, diseases, non-
cosmetic surgery), and basic emergency services. The other function of primary care is the
coordination of moving patients to other levels of medical care (ex: referred to a specialist or
private care which exceed the primary care limits)
Secondary Care services / private (specialist doctors): prescription drug therapy, acute
emergency care, rehabilitation services, cosmetic surgery, counselling and palliative care.
Secondary / Private health care can be located in regular hospitals or in a private place.
Health insurance plans by ( ex: teacher unions)and payment by citizens for uncovered
specialist health services (ex: Cosmetic surgery) are two examples of Canada’s private
health system. It is specifically for specialist doctors, not general practitioners.
Additional Care Services / Private (even more specialized): Dental care, vision care, health
insurance plans. NOTE: what is included in additional care services can vary from one province
The four possibilities of different types of possible health care systems