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Recent Reports Distort Canadians’ Views on Health Care

Reports on a recent Ipsos-Reid poll inaccurately suggest that Canadians have suddenly softened their support for Medicare. The reports badly distort the views of Canadians and poorly represent the actual results of the Ipsos-Reid survey.

“The reports trumpet concerns about costs and suggest support for health care user-fees, but downplay key responses that show Canadians continue to strongly support Medicare,” said Dr. Danielle Martin, Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare.

The following results have been overlooked in the reports:

  • Most Canadians continue to oppose health care user-fees;
  • 85% of Canadians would prefer to use our health care system rather than live with US style health care; and
  • Only 1 Canadian in 5 thinks our health care system will become more like the US system any time in the next 20 years.

These responses closely match those of most recent polls on health care, including:

  • The Nanos Research Poll of August, 2009, which showed that 86.2% of Canadians prefer strengthening public health care rather than expanding for-profit options;
  • The Harris/Decima Poll of July, 2009, which showed that 70% of Canadians said the Canadian health care system is working well, and that 55% think the health system should be more public, while only 12% believe it should be more private; and
  • The Canadian Index of Wellbeing Healthy Populations Report of June, 2009, which showed that 87% of Canadians rated the quality of health care in their province or territory as “excellent” or “good.”

Worse still, the poll itself resorts to slanted and loaded questions to generate dramatic responses. For example:

  • Rather than asking opinions about an issue, the poll proposes opinions, claims they are supported by unnamed studies, and then asks if those studies “could” be true or “are just alarmist speculation”;
  • Rather than asking what solutions Canadians want, it asks which ones Canadians would be willing to accept.

These types of slants are known to drive up the number of positive responses and are therefore unlikely to provide a clear appreciation of Canadians’ real views on the issues.

“Time and again Canadians say they want a Canadian-style Medicare system. It’s time to stop trying to use spin and distortion to make that go away. Let’s talk honestly about ways to improve our health care system,” Dr. Martin added. “Health care is too important an issue for this kind of game-playing.”

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