Report: Thousands of Canadians die yearly awaiting care under single-payer system

Though liberal proponents of single-payer healthcare routinely point to Canada as a successful example of such a system, a new report from think tank SecondStreet.org paints a different picture, explaining that thousands of patients actually die waiting for surgery each year as a result of the delays that occur under that country’s framework.

According to the report, which documented deaths that occurred during the period of April 1, 2019 and December 31, 2020, there is a serious need for systemic reform in the structure to which so many on the left believe should serve as a model for healthcare in our own country.

While the report was unable to capture comprehensive information, given that some provincial governments in Canada do not even keep track of data regarding deaths of patients awaiting surgery, the data that was able to be compiled reveal a shocking situation, indeed.

During the 2019-20 fiscal year alone, no fewer than 2,256 patients died while on surgical waiting lists, and another 6.202 died while awaiting appointments with medical specialists or for diagnostic scans. Statistics for the 2020 calendar year revealed that more than 2,367 patients died awaiting a surgical procedure, a figure which represented an increase of nearly 5% over the prior year.

Notably, of the cases examined in the study, recorded patient deaths came anywhere from one month to eight years into the time on a medical waiting list, and the procedures for which they were waiting included those that were actually linked to their ultimate causes of death and those that could have appreciably improved the quality of their lives.

Colin Craig, president of SecondStreet.org lamened the dire situation being witnessed across Canada, saying, “The most unfortunate part about so many patients dying on waiting lists in our health care system is that many of these tragedies could have been prevented.”

As the report explained, in terms of healthcare services, the Canadian government offers citizens two options, they can either add their names to a waitlist for a procedure, diagnostic scan, or surgery, or they can leave the country to pursue treatment elsewhere. There are even some parts of Canada in which private healthcare – even in the case of a relatively simple procedure – is actually outlawed, as is true in Ontario, where a patient is not permitted to pay out of pocket for an MRI at a non-government facility

Awareness of the escalating problem is not confined to those who authored the SecondStreet.org report, as Doctors Manitoba recently reported that the backlog of diagnostic and surgical procedures stemming from COVID-19 has exceeded 110,000, a fact which is almost certain to result in exacerbation of pain, reduced overall health status, and death, as the CBC noted.

The bottom line is that American progressives’ ongoing portrayal of Canada as a veritable healthcare utopia where everything is free and the care is world-class is one that is utterly unmoored from the facts, and any suggestion that the United States should follow that country’s lead in terms of shaping our own system must be met with the disdain it deserves.