Canadians And Physicians Agree Benchmarks For Wait Times Are Part Of Health Care System Solution

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Both favour a “safety valve” that would allow patients to seek access elsewhere to the care they need if benchmarks are not met

August 10, 2006, Ottawa, ON – According to Ipsos-Reid surveys among the public and a CMA survey of physicians, a majority of both the general public and physicians recognize a need for health system performance measures like benchmarks for wait times (71% and 68% respectively), and for a “safety valve” that would allow patients to seek the care they need elsewhere if wait times are exceeded (84% and 85% respectively) — preferably covered under their provincial health insurance plan (83% and 71% respectively) as opposed to out-of-pocket or through the purchase of private insurance (33% and 50% respectively).

Although just over half of the general public and physician populations approve of contracting out some health services to privately-owned and operated facilities, this approval is limited to non-direct patient care services including laundry or dietary requirements (61% and 71% respectively) and diagnostic services (50% and 49% respectively). Only around a third of the public and of physicians agree that medical or surgical services, out-patient (39% and 43% respectively) or in-patient (32% and 27% respectively), should be contracted to private facilities.

When asked about various options for private practice, the general public and physicians agree that physicians choosing to practice in both public and private systems should be regulated by a professional code of conduct (83% and 87% respectively). Their opinions begin to diverge however on the extent to which a physician’s time in private practice or professional fees should be regulated, with the public — perhaps registering concern for the continued well-being of the public system — being more likely to favour regulation. For example, when asked whether physicians practising in both systems should be required to spend a specific percentage of their time in the public system, three in four Canadians (76%) agree compared to six in ten (60%) of physicians. Physicians’ agreement with the notion of regulation de-creases as the measures become more restrictive. For

example, only one in ten (12%) physicians agree that they should be permitted to practice in the private system only outside of normal hours of care, compared to a third (33%) of the public.

The general public data in this study are the findings of an Ipsos-Reid/Canadian Medical Association poll conducted between June 29th and July 4th, 2006. The survey included 1,103 members of the Ipsos-Reid Online Panel. For a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within +/-2.95%, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire Canadian population over the age of 18 years been polled. The margin of error is larger within regions, and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. These data were weighted to ensure the sample’s regional, age and gender composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to the 2001 Census data. The physician data in this study are the findings of a Canadian Medical Association (CMA) survey of 2,477 physicians, medical students and/or residents conducted between April
7 and June 6, 2006. The collection of physician respondent data was coordinated and supervised by the CMA. Questions about the Physicians Survey should be directed to the CMA (

Ipsos Reid

Ipsos Reid is Canada’s market intelligence leader, the country’s leading provider of public opinion research, and research partner for loyalty and forecasting and modelling insights. With operations in eight cities, Ipsos Reid employs more than 300 research professionals and support staff in Canada. The company has the biggest network of telephone call centres in the country, as well as the largest pre-recruited household and online panels. Ipsos Reid’s marketing research and public affairs practices offer the premier suite of research vehicles in Canada, all of which provide clients with actionable and relevant information. Staffed with seasoned research consultants with extensive industry-specific backgrounds, Ipsos Reid offers syndicated information or custom solutions across key sectors of the Canadian economy, including consumer packaged goods, financial
services, automotive, retail, and technology & telecommunications. Ipsos Reid is an Ipsos company, a leading global survey-based market research group. To learn more, please visit