Canadians Want a Balanced Budget, But Not at the Expense of Health Care

Majority also believe that greater accountability and not more money is needed

OTTAWA, Feb. 27 /CNW Telbec/ - A new poll conducted for the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) shows that while Canadians recognize the urgency of the federal government tackling the deficit in next week's budget, they do not want it to come at the expense of health care.

The poll, conducted for the CMA by Ipsos Reid, asked Canadians about what they felt the focus of the federal budget should be. Results showed that 83% of respondents say that it is urgent that the federal government address the deficit. When pressed as to how that should be accomplished, 89% said they preferred the federal government to pursue a long-term deficit reduction strategy to protect important program spending.

"I think Canadians recognize that the 'lend and spend' era of financing of health care and other programs is over," said Dr. Anne Doig, President of the Canadian Medical Association. "We need a new strategic approach that will meet the health care needs of Canadians in the long term."

The poll found that while two-in-three Canadians support reduced spending on government programs due to the deficit, that sentiment did not include health. Just 16% support reducing spending on health care.

"Canadians have excellent memories and they remember the harsh effects of the deep cuts made to health care spending in the early 1990s," said Dr. Doig. "They do not want health care gutted in the name of slaying the deficit."

The poll provided some interesting insight into Canadians' views as to how governments could better collaborate to make health care dollars go further. While 70% of those polled say that the significant federal transfers to the provinces meant that there should be accountability as to how those dollars were spent, almost all (94%) agree the federal government should take on the responsibility for developing a long-term, national strategy for the future of health care in Canada. Furthermore, 87% agree the federal government could act as a "clearinghouse" to ensure best practices in health are adopted across the country.

"This remains the unfulfilled promise of Canada's health care system," said Dr. Doig. "Canadians want and need a strategic and systematic plan for health that includes a focus on prevention, as well as acute care services."

The online poll contacted a national sample of Canadians between Feb. 8 and Feb. 15, 2010. Results are considered accurate to within a margin of error of +/-2.18 percentage points. For the full survey report, please click on the following link: http://www.cma.ca/index.cfm/ci_id/8698/la_id/1.htm

SOURCE Canadian Medical Association

For further information: For further information: Lucie Boileau, Manager, Media Relations, Tel.: (613) 731-8610 x1266, Cell.: (613) 447-0866, lucie.boileau@cma.ca


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