Age and Gender Shape Views on Health Care in British Columbia

Almost half of the province’s residents agree with the recent court ruling on private delivery, while three-in-ten disagree.

Vancouver, BC [December 8, 2020] – The views of British Columbians on how best to manage the province’s health care system vary greatly by age and gender, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative provincial sample, 27% of British Columbians identify long waiting times as the biggest problem facing the health care system right now, down 11 points since a similar Research Co. poll conducted in August 2019.

A shortage of doctors and nurses is second on the list of concerns with 24% (+4), followed by inadequate resources and facilities (13%, -2), and bureaucracy and poor management (10%, =).

Fewer British Columbians believe the most important health care problems right now are the absence of a focus on preventive care (9%, +6), a lack of a wider range of services for patients (6%, =), vague legal rights of patients (3%, -1) and insufficient standards of hygiene (1%, unchanged).

Long waiting times is identified as the most important problem by women (30%), British Columbians aged 18-to-34 (34%) and British Columbians aged 35-to-54 (29%). Conversely, a shortage of doctors and nurses is the most prevalent concern for men (26%) and British Columbians aged 55 and over (33%).

In Metro Vancouver, one third of residents (33%) cite long waiting times as the biggest health care problem. A shortage of doctors and nurses is the top concern for respondents in Southern BC (25%), Vancouver Island (32%), the Fraser Valley (41%) and Northern BC (55%).

Almost two thirds of British Columbians (64%, +6) think there are some good things in health care in the province, but some changes are required.

Just over one-in-five British Columbians (22%, -4) believe the health care system in the province works well and only minor changes are needed to make it work better, while 11% (-1) think health care has so much wrong with it that we need to completely rebuild it.

“There are some significant gender differences when British Columbians assess the health care system,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “While 28% of men think only minor changes are needed, only 16% of women share the same point of view.”

The proportion of British Columbians who say they would be willing to pay out of their own pocket to have quicker access to medical services that currently have long waiting times fell from 45% in August 2019 to 40% this year.

In addition, only 27% of British Columbians are willing to travel to another country to have quicker access to medical services that currently have long waiting times, down 10 points since last year.

In September, a B.C. Supreme Court justice ruled that access to private health care is not a constitutional right, even if wait times for care under the public system are too long. Almost half of British Columbians (46%) agree with this decision, while 31% disagree and 23% are undecided.

Results are based on an online study conducted from November 25 to November 27, 2020, among 800 adults in British Columbia. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in British Columbia. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.5 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

Find our data tables here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.