Weekly Top Stories: Canadians’ Skepticisms about Healthcare Improvement and the $2.1 Million Investment in Microplastics Research

Published on
January 29, 2024
Written by
Delphic Research
Read time
5 min

We have another interesting lineup of stories this week that will surely capture your interest. We talk about the $196 billion federal health accord and the concerns around it; public-private healthcare partnerships; and the $2.1 million to research microplastics' impact on human health.

Despite a $196-billion health accord between the federal government and several provinces aimed at addressing healthcare crises, a recent Leger survey reveals that the majority of Canadians remain skeptical about improvements in healthcare quality. The survey, conducted nearly a year after the federal offer, indicates that 70% of respondents are concerned about the quality of medical care due to a shortage of healthcare workers. Factors contributing to this shortage include poor working conditions, long hours, health funding cuts, and retirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Quebec, nursing is identified as one of the most sought-after professions in 2024, with a median salary of $100,000 per year. However, experts note that these figures can be misleading, as job offers from private placement agencies, which offer significantly higher salaries than the public sector, often skew the statistics. Private agencies on job sites are advertising competitive salaries, with some positions offering between $170 and$200 per hour. In contrast, the public sector's clinical nurse with a bachelor's degree in Quebec earns a maximum hourly salary of $47.98, or $93,561 per year.

The entry salary for nurses in Quebec is below the Canadian average, while the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ) is currently demanding a 20% salary increase over four years in ongoing negotiations with the government.

The call for public-private partnerships aligns with the ongoing concerns raised in the survey, indicating a need for innovative solutions to tackle healthcare challenges. According to a column by Fraser Institute Analysts Mackenzie Moir and Bacchus Barua, while Canadians are supportive of partnerships between the government and the private sector to improve healthcare delivery, advocates for the existing system, including theTrudeau government, remain against such collaborations.

The authors compare Canada to countries like Australia, which spends less on healthcare but excels in various metrics, attributing their success to incorporating the private sector, with almost half of their hospitals being private. The authors argued that Canada should consider such reforms, drawing on successful models like Australia, to address its healthcare challenges and meet public expectations for improved access and timely care.

Federal Health Minister Mark Holland’s advocacy for public healthcare in the face of provincial strains significantly resonates with the broader discussions surrounding the $196-billion federal health accord. Holland asserted that while some provinces in Canada are turning to private healthcare as a temporary solution to address strains in the system, the delivery of healthcare must remain publicly funded. This comes in the wake of concerns about the crisis in emergency rooms and the challenges posed by a surge in population and aging residents.

Holland acknowledged the need for more discussion around virtual healthcare, primarily delivered privately. The federal government is offering $196.1 billion to provinces and territories over the next decade for healthcare delivery, with $46.2 billion being new money.

In other news, the federal government is investing $2.1 million over four years in the Environmental Health Research Contribution Program, directing funds to three academic institutions—McGillUniversity, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and the University of Toronto.The goal is to conduct research on microplastics and their potential impact on human health.

The funding aims to improve our understanding of potential exposure to microplastics from various sources, such as food, food packaging, drinking water, indoor and outdoor air, and dust. This initiative aligns with Canada's Plastics Science Agenda and addresses knowledge gaps identified in the 2020 Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution. The research is part of ongoing efforts to manage the risks associated with plastic pollution and understand its potential health implications.


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