Meanwhile in Canada

My mother lives in Montreal. She’s been feeling very sick this past week. Excruciating pain. The doctor can’t see her until September 21, though. So she’s left to self-medicate, which she is doing without a great degree of success.

This is not an exception. It’s always like this. This what the “free” Canadian healthcare looks like.

In the meanwhile, I can see my doctor in under 30 minutes.

My effective tax rate is 18%. My sister’s in Canada is 48%. My father is retired but he works more than I do because it’s impossible to live on retirement. What do you think he’s doing today, on Labor Day? Working.

So excuse me for not wanting to live in a system where I have to shell out 48% in taxes for the wonderful privilege of maybe being able to see a doctor a month into an illness. And then wait two months for tests. And another six weeks after that for a follow-up appointment. And so on.

This is the so-called Canadian socialism that we are all supposed to want to emulate. Retirees working on and on and not even able to see a doctor.

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39 thoughts on “Meanwhile in Canada”

  1. Does Canada have a system where you have to see a primary physician who then gives referrals to others? If so it’s insane to have to wait so long for a general visit.
    I’ve always been able to see my primary physician (actually an outpatient clinic connected to a research hospital) within a day or so, referrals can be longer of course….

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  2. I had a friend whose Canadian relative had to deal with a nine-month waiting list for her first pregnancy ultrasound. She had to fake emergencies to get the majority of her pre-natal care.

    I have to wait a long time to see specialists, which is a pain because I’m in pain that doesn’t respond well to medication. But I’ve never had an issue with making appointments to see my PCP unless she’s been on vacation. And even then, they make exceptions for emergencies and let you at least see a nurse.

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  3. That’s not the only way to do things. You don’t have those wait times in Europe. And getting single payer in US won’t cause this. Oregon has universal coverage and this doesn’t happen. I’m not sure what it is that makes Canada this way but the problem in US is no healthcare access for so many, or extreme under-insurance. Even my neighbor well employed, insane size premium and the HMO does not allow him to go to the best hospitals, which my plan (state group) does. These HMOs and primary-care systems are the worst – I only accept plans that let me make appointments directly.

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    1. I have no experience with the European systems, so I don’t have an opinion. If they are good, I’m only happy for people. But I know for a fact that the Canadian system is very deficient.

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      1. I think it depends where you are — they aren’t all the same. But there’s got to be a way to cover people, which we don’t do in US, without getting into this Canadian nightmare

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      2. Also: does Canada have an MD shortage? Where I hated medical care was in Denmark but I think it had to do with living out in the sticks where there was practically none, no options, the one doctor there was a weirdo.

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        1. Of course, many doctors prefer to move to the US because they can make so much more money. Hey, if there were any insane demand for literature professors across the border and they got paid 5 times more, wouldn’t we all be happy to move?

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              1. “allow immigrants to confirm their diplomas. Right now, it’s pretty much impossible”

                Is that just in Quebec or generally in Canada… how much of that is language based (immigrant doctors not wanting to learn French)?

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        2. “Does Canada have an MD shortage?”

          -I don’t know about an MD shortage, but they do have a specialist shortage, especially for chronic or relatively rare illnesses. There is nothing similar to the Mayo Clinic in the US, which takes these patients and helps them find a treatment that works for them. And since it can take so long to receive PCP care, patients with lupus and other chronic illnesses — who need regular appointments and access to specialized urgent or emergency care — often have a lot of difficulty finding doctors and specialists.

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      3. I have lived in four European countries and everywhere you can get a GP appointment the same day if it’s urgent. For non-urgent things you may have to wait a week or two (e.g. things like travel vaccinations, etc.), but for urgent stuff it is always the same day, either by them having a set of urgent appointments reserved every day or by having a walk-in clinic at certain times.

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        1. “lived in four European countries and everywhere you can get a GP appointment the same day if it’s urgent”

          Yeah, when I call my GP they always assume I want an appointment the same day (and are apologetic if it’s too late) but I try to schedule low traffic times so it’s a day or two ahead. The first time I went to register it was same day and a couple of different tests (done in different parts of the hospital on the same day).

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  4. To makes things a bit clearer for your readers, health system is Canada is run by provinces, which means that there are variations, say, between Québec, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. My limited experience with the Québec health system -where your mom lives- has been awful; in Ontario it was not as bad. That being said, I see less sick people in Canada and less people stressed out because they have to pay for medications they cannot afford.

    I hope your mom will be ok soon. She has not been lucky with her family doctor, and it pains me to think that she may have to go to emergency and wait hours.

    When she feels better, however, you may suggest her not to vote for that prime minister who happens to be a doctor, and whose party have ruled over this province almost non-stop for over 15 years now:)

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    1. —you may suggest her not to vote for that prime minister who happens to be a doctor, and whose party have ruled over this province almost non-stop for over 15 years now

      If only this was that simple… Does any other political party in Quebec actually willing to liberalize the system by allowing more doctors and more competition between the doctors? My impression was that most of other parties are even more socialist than the Liberals (or how else is it called when the right of the workers/in this case doctors to have a job security and do their job poorly is put above the interests of the customers/patients?), and thus very unlikely to do anything about this particular problem.

      And the problem is indeed real, it sucks especially in Quebec, although my daughter complains about BC too.

      One thing, though, Clarissa – your father came to Canada as a middle-aged man and was mostly self-employed, if I remember correctly. Of course he did not accumulate enough pension. Canada has a two-tier retirement pension system, with one part resembling US Social Security (and being a bit more generous at that, but not enough to survive on that part alone) and the other – mutual funds and such. His example should not be used to extrapolate about the whole system.

      For practical solution – I had very good experiences with the Westmount walk-in clinic.

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      1. Canada is right now pushing to attract millions of immigrants within the next few decades. The majority of immigrants tends to be self-employed. This tells me there will be more and more 70-year-olds still working with no end in sight.

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        1. “This tells me there will be more and more 70-year-olds still working with no end in sight”

          Retirement for all but the truly wealthy is on the neoliberal chopping block of social services deemed impossible to keep.
          Historically retirement is very recent and originally was just the few years from when a person was no longer physically able to labor until they died. That’s the norm that liquid capital wants to return to….

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          1. I’d just like people to find out what it is they are admiring. Canada is a great country but its welfare provisions are not that wonderful. I’m a big fan of welfare but in my experience it’s not very well done in Canada. Especially in Quebec. Everything is done to discourage young, non-immigrant people away from the workplace. Everything is done to discourage small business and reward the enormous, mafia-type corporate entities. The banking system is a million times more oppressive to the poor than in the US. Healthcare for women is absolutely ridiculous.

            Higher education is subsidized, so it’s cheaper in Quebec than in the US. The quality, however, is decidedly lower because of how the system is set up.

            As for Scandinavian countries, I’ve never been but I’m reading what Ukrainians who lived there and ran away in horror have to say, and I’m not really impressed. I wouldn’t want to live in a place like that.

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            1. ” Ukrainians who lived there and ran away in horror”

              I’ve known Polish people who live abroad (as in the US or western Europe) and try to do as much healthcare as they can when they visit Poland because it’s quicker and easier (and cheaper)….
              A friend in New York couldn’t believe that with the sky high premiums she still had to pay to get much done (and once forked out a small fortune to see a specialist who had nothing to offer, she had to pay for him to tell her there was nothing he could do…).

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  5. “My effective tax rate is 18%. My sister’s in Canada is 48%. ”

    Well, that’s the price that people living in social-welfare nations pay for their “free” medical care and “free” education and job guarantees and other cradle-to-grave government benefits.

    Which is one of the many reasons why people like Bernie Sanders and the current crop of “Democratic Socialist” idiots running for office will never come to power in America.

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    1. Quebec is the most “socialist” part of Canada. The taxes are the highest, the regulations are the strictest. For instance, food carts were banned in Montreal. Why? Who knows. Because they could be banned. And so on.

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      1. But don’t they have some huge capitalist businesses and what-not? Banning food carts, that’s downright Bolshevik – I mean, I think even the Bolsheviks had to relent and let microbusinesses like that operate, no, what did they call them, kulaks?

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    2. Re Scandinavia: as far as I can see, socialism only works in the countries with strong protestant work ethics… Paradoxially, that would mean that socialism would be more likely to work in the US than in Quebec.

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      1. Once again, I have to insist that you can’t be socialist if 90% of your economy is privately owned and free market policies is stronger than even in the US. This is the case in Sweden, for instance.

        Scandinavian countries are 100% capitalist. It’s deeply strange to me that anybody would think otherwise.

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  6. Your mother’s 65 years old? Bring her to a sanctuary city, and the Democrats will put her on Medicare — that program is a gold mine if you have any health problems! It has plenty of willing providers, all quickly available, all you have to do is be old enough.

    Take my word for it: I’ve been on Medicare for the past eight years, ever since the Air Force put me out to pasture, and the care I get is just as good — just as quick, just as respectful, and as complete as when the military had total responsibility for my welfare.

    Of course, the military pays for my total Medicare copay of 20%, and for my handful of old-man prescriptions, meaning that my infrequent medical appointments (I see my primary care provider once a year — my health has been stable for decades, so why waste taxpayer dollars on unneeded appointments?) are completely FREE.

    You want to get “free” medical care in America? You don’t have to earn it like I did with all my years of service and payroll deductions. Just be sure to be old enough when you sneak across the border, and to land in a sanctuary city that will laugh at federal laws.

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