Economic Woes Raise Health Fears Among Canadians



    SASKATOON, Aug. 17 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Medical Association (CMA)
today released its ninth annual National Report Card on Health Care in Canada,
focusing on both access to health care services and the effect of the economic
downturn on the health of Canadians.
    The CMA's National Report Card on Health Care measures public opinion
gathered by Ipsos-Reid to examine the attitudes of Canadians on their
experiences with the health care system. The Report Card is critical to the
CMA's ongoing commitment to Canadians to track access to care and government
action on the health care system.
    "Emerson said famously that the greatest wealth is health," said CMA
President, Dr. Robert Ouellet. "This year, the CMA's report card shows that
these tough economic times could also be a serious health hazard for
Canadians."

    
    The survey found:

    -   Almost one quarter (23%) of Canadians say the economic downturn has
        affected how they take care of their health;
    -   Over half of Canadians (52%) are worried about their health - only
        slightly fewer than the proportion worried about their financial
        security (57%) and nearly double the percentage worried about losing
        their job (27%);
    -   Two-in-five Canadians (40%) say they felt stressed and/or overwhelmed
        due to financial concerns. That number rises to half (51%) among
        those who earn less than $30,000;
    -   Nationally, one quarter (25%) of Canadians have delayed or cancelled
        a dentist appointment as a result of financial concerns. This figure
        jumps to one in three (34%) among Canadians who earn less than
        $30,000;
    -   Nationally, nearly one in five Canadians have skipped meals as a
        result of financial concerns. This proportion nearly doubles among
        the lowest income bracket (28%);
    -   One-quarter of Canadians (23%) say they are losing sleep over
        economic worries. That figure rises to one in three (33%) among those
        with less than a university degree.
    

    "Governments have ignored tackling the tough issues facing our health
care system," said Dr. Ouellet. "There is a mistaken impression that health
care is somehow insulated from today's harsh economic reality. Our polling
results show - that's just not the case."

    Access

    In addition to important information on the impact of the economic
downturn on the health of Canadians, the ninth annual CMA Report Card also
shows that public opinion about the health care system is virtually unchanged
from last year. In 2009, two in three (67%) of Canadians asked gave the system
an "A" or a "B" for overall quality of the health care services available.
Last year 66% of those asked graded the system with either an "A" or "B".
    Beyond rating the health care system, Canadians were also asked to rate
their own health. Just over four in ten (41%) Canadians rate their health as
either excellent (10%) or very good (31%). An additional four in 10 (38%) say
their health is good, while one in five (20%) rate their health as either fair
(16%) or poor (4%). Most worrying for the long-term health of Canadians is the
fact that over half of Canadians (56%) say they are either very (10%) or
somewhat (46%) overweight.
    "The significant numbers of Canadians identifying themselves as being in
either fair or poor health show that we are not doing enough as a nation to
keep our population healthy," said Dr. Ouellet. "Even more worrisome is the
fact that the poll's finding that a majority of Canadians are overweight. We
know that overweight and obese individuals significantly increase their
chances of having serious health issues as they age.
    "Canada must do more to help Canadians live longer, healthier lives and
that begins with tackling our obesity epidemic," added Dr. Ouellet.

    Governments

    In the 2009 Report Card, Canadians' perceptions of the actions of the
federal government in dealing with health care remained improved slightly from
last year, with 39% assigning either an "A" or "B" grade to its performance
(34% in 2008). This year, 43% of Canadians graded the performance of their
provincial government with either an A or B grade, a three-point increase over
2008. The similarly middling grades for both the provincial and federal levels
of government translates into a uncertainty among Canadians as to whether
health care services will get better or worse in their communities over the
next two or three years - 51% said they thought services would get better,
while 46% said they will get worse.

    Methodology

    This research was conducted by telephone and online. Portions of the
study that are tracked with earlier years' research were conducted by
telephone. Several new questions were asked as part of an online survey
conducted among members of the Ipsos Household Panel.
    In the telephone survey, Canadians were asked to rate a range of
dimensions of the health care system using a letter grade (i.e., A, B, C or F
with A being the highest grade and F being a failing grade). During the online
survey, a series of questions were asked related to health status and the
social determinants of health.The annual report card telephone survey by
Ipsos-Reid surveyed 1,002 Canadian adults between June 7 and 9, 2009. This
sample provides a +/-3.2% margin of error for the overall national findings 19
times out of 20.
    Between June 25 and July 11th, 2009, Ipsos Reid surveyed 3,223 Canadian
adults online. A sample of this size is associated with a +/- 1.73 percentage
point margin of error. The data was weighted by region, age and gender to
ensure the sample accurately reflects the population according to Census data.
    The Report Card can be accessed at: http://www.cma.ca/report-card.htm





For further information:

For further information: Lucie Boileau, Media Relations Manager, (800)
663-7336 or (613) 731-8610 ext. 1266, (306) 657-1878, Saskatoon (August
15-20), (613) 447-0866 Mobile


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