Wait Times, Red Tape Are Main Health Care Snags for Canadians

Four-in-five Canadians are confident that medical services will be there if they were to need them unexpectedly.

Vancouver, BC [January 30, 2019] – More than half of Canadians identify two issues as the main glitches facing the country’s health care system, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample, a third of Canadians (33%) identify long wait times as the biggest problem facing the health care system, while one-in-four (24%) mention bureaucracy and poor management.

A shortage of doctors and nurses is third on the list with 18%, followed by little focus on preventive care (9%), inadequate resources and facilities (5%), lack of a wider range of services for patients (3%) and insufficient standards of hygiene (also 3%).

“There are some significant regional differences when it comes to the perceptions of Canadians on what needs to be fixed about the health care system,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “Albertans and Quebecers are decidedly more critical on management, while Atlantic Canadians are more concerned about a lack of physicians.”

Across the country, four-in-five Canadians (79%) say they are “very confident” (25%) or “moderately confident” (54%) that Canada’s health care system would be there to provide the help and assistance they would need if they faced an unexpected medical condition or disease.

Canadians aged 55 and over are more likely to express confidence in the health care system (86%) than those aged 18-to-34 (79%) and those aged 35-to-54 (75%).

One-in-four Canadians (25%) think the health care system works well and only minor changes are needed to make it work better, while three-in-five (60%) believe there are some good things in Canada’s health care system, but many changes are required.

Just over one-in-seven Canadians (13%) believe the health care system has so much wrong with it that it needs to be completely rebuilt—a proportion that reaches 20% in Quebec and 16% in Alberta.

Three-in-four Canadians (74%) are opposed to the notion of the federal government making cuts to health care funding in order to reduce government debt. 

When asked if health care in Canada would be better than it is now if it were run by the private sector, a majority of Canadians (57%) disagree with the idea, while two-in-five (39%) are in agreement.

On a regional basis, two thirds of Quebecers (66%) assert that the private sector would do a better job delivering health care in Canada. In no other region of the country does this idea garner the backing of more than 40% of residents.


Results are based on an online study conducted from January 14 to January 17, 2019, among 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.1 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

Find our full data set here and download the press release here. 

Photo Credit: Citobun

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.
[e] mario.canseco@researchco.ca