Comparing provincial healthcare plans

Which province in Canada has the best healthcare system? That is a good question because there isn’t a right answer. It all depends on what you are comparing. Are we comparing cost efficiency? Are we talking out prescription drug coverage? Are we debating wait times? These are all interesting questions we can try to answer and summarize in this post.

When it comes spending our healthcare dollars wisely and efficiently, Quebec and Ontario are in front of the pack. Quebec receives the best overall value for the money they invest into their health systems. Ontario had the second-highest levels of efficiency, followed by New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and British Columbia. So whenever a politician or pundit talks about “trimming the fat” from our healthcare system, they should be reminded that Ontario already spends their healthcare dollars with a high level of efficiency.

How long are wait times in Ontario for special medical treatments like specialist appointments, surgery, diagnostic imaging, and pharmaceutical approvals? Some critics of our publicly funded healthcare system claim universal access creates long wait times. But what they don’t tell you is Ontario came in first place for the shortest wait times in Canada, followed by Quebec and Alberta.

But when it comes to the doctor shortage, Quebec fares the worst. Over 26% of Quebecers do not have a family doctor. The leader in this area was Nova Scotia. Only 6% of the province’s residents do not have a family doctor. New Brunswick came in second, and PEI in third. Ontario came in fourth, with only 8.41% of the population who doesn’t have a family doctor.

As for prescription drugs, Quebec bounces right back to the top. More than 89% of Quebecers have a prescription drug plan. Alberta comes in second place with 80%, and Ontario in third with 78%. Last was Newfoundland, where only 69% of their residents have some sort of drug coverage.

Ontario, BC and Alberta all receive good grades for keeping drug expenses low. They have the lowest number of people who don’t have to spend more than 3% of their after tax income on prescription drugs.

As for homecare, Ontario ranks somewhere in the middle. When it comes to homecare clients per 100,000 people, Alberta and New Brunswick are on top.

Ontario also does well with dental care plans. The province comes in second place, with 69% of its people having some kind of dental insurance. The top of the list was Alberta, with 71%. Last surprisingly was Quebec. Less than half or 46% of the people have a dental plan.

When it comes to nursing homes, Ontario doesn’t fare as well. The province offers only 45 beds per 1,000 seniors over the age of 65. That puts the province in sixth place. Top on the list are Manitoba and Saskatchewan with 60% and 50%, respectively. Quebec fares the worst, offering only 31 beds per 1,000 seniors.

As mentioned above, there is no real clear provincial leader in the healthcare field. Some provinces who receive top rankings in one area could be dead last in another. The good news is that Ontario on average fares well in most areas. They are either in the first or middle tier, but never on the bottom. But even though Ontario has a good record in drug coverage, family doctors, dental care, wait times and efficiency, that doesn’t mean we can’t be better.


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