Canada lags in chronic care, study
OTTAWA – Canada is a
middle-of-the-pack performer on health, getting a B grade, in the latest
Report Card on Canada: How Canada Performs: Health-Details and Analysis,
released by The Conference Board of Canada.
Relative to its peers, Canada’s current 10th place ranking (out of 16
countries) is down from a much better 5th place in the 1990s. And Canada
may lose this ranking if it cannot address the issues posed by chronic
disease, particularly given the lack of focus on quality and
accountability in the healthcare system.
Canada has one of the highest total healthcare expenditure levels –
ranking 5th among comparator countries – yet it only ranks 10th on
health outcomes among the leading countries in the world.
“These results raise important questions about whether Canadians are
getting full value for their investment in health and healthcare,” said
Glen Roberts, Director, Health Programs. “For Canada to become a world
leader, it needs to rethink its investment strategies around health and
healthcare. The current system focuses primarily on acute care and
physicians. As our population ages, the new challenge is managing the
increase in chronic diseases. The current system does not sufficiently
focus on preventing disease or on maintaining quality of life for those
who are afflicted.”
In this year’s analysis, Canada gets an A grade in self-reported health
status and premature mortality, and a B grade on life expectancy and
mortality due to: cancer; circulatory diseases; respiratory diseases,
and mental disorders.
Despite this year’s overall B grade, Canada’s record on addressing
mortality from mental illness has deteriorated over time. Mental illness
now claims nearly 14 lives per 100,000 population, up from three deaths
per 100,000 population in the 1960s. Recent Conference Board research
indicates that Ontario physicians spend almost one-fifth of every hour
treating patients with mental illness.
C grades on mortality due to diabetes (the fourth highest rate among the
17 countries) and musculoskeletal diseases further underscores the
challenges facing the health system in preventing and managing chronic
Japan and Switzerland are the only countries to receive an A grade in
this year’s ranking. Most top performing countries have achieved better
health outcomes by acting on the broader determinants of health, which
include health promotion programs that focus on changes in lifestyle, as
well as on education, income and social status.
The United Kingdom, Denmark, and the United States receive an overall D
grade. The U.S. is the worst performer on indicators for: life
expectancy, premature mortality and infant mortality.
How Canada Performs: A Report Card on Canada website is at