Trump comments on Canadian health care not entirely off base, data suggests

Published On October 11, 2016 | By Humber News | Politics, US Election 2016
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (right) said Canadians travel to the United States for health care because "their system is so slow." Ontario patients spend nearly 10 hours on average in emergency rooms under Premier Kathleen Wynne's (left) government.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (right) said Canadians travel to the United States for health care because “their system is so slow.” Ontario patients spend nearly 10 hours on average in emergency rooms under Premier Kathleen Wynne’s (left) government. (Wiki Commons)

By: Hunter Crowther

There is mixed data about whether Donald Trump was out of line in questioning this country’s health care system, calling it “catastrophic.”

In last Sunday’s presidential debate, the Republican presidential nominee suggested Hillary Clinton wants a health care system where “the government basically rules everything.”

“If you haven’t noticed the Canadians, when they need a big operation, when something happens, they come into the United States in many cases because their system is so slow. It’s catastrophic in certain ways,” said Trump.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information, a non-profit organization aimed at improving Canadian health care, provided Humber News with a graphic, outlining the benchmarks for wait times with patients needing specific treatments.

(Canadian Institute for Health Information)

(Canadian Institute for Health Information)

It shows that about four out of five Canadians have their procedure done within the medically acceptable wait times

In a Fraser Institute report published last year, more than 52,000 Canadians said they received non-emergency medical treatment outside of Canada in 2014. Over 26,000 of those patients were from Ontario.

In the same report, patients were expected to wait 9.8 weeks for medically necessary treatment after seeing a specialist – three weeks longer than the time physicians consider to be clinically “reasonable” (6.5 weeks).

There are many reasons for Canadians wanting to leave the country seeking medical attention, says the Fraser Institute. Some are forced, due to a lack of resources or advanced health care facilities.

But the waiting times are the major concern, which is in line with Trump’s comments.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the provincial target for total time spent in emergency rooms (based on 9 out of 10 patients) is eight hours.

However, for the month of August, the average wait time was 10.3 hours in Ontario.

For Humber students, the William Osler Health Centre – Etobicoke General Hospital, located on Humber College Boulevard near the North Campus, averaged an 11.8 hour wait time in August.

Trump’s mentioning of Canada drew sharp criticism on social media, notably from Toronto Coun. Norm Kelly, who suggested the self-acclaimed billionaire should “keep our country’s name out of your mouth” in a tweet Sunday night.

 

During the debate, Trump incorrectly said the Democratic presidential nominee supported a publicly funded single-payer system. (During her party’s primary process, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders called for a more socialistic approach to health care).

In fact, Clinton plans to expand the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” a piece of U.S. legislature signed in March 2010 in hopes of lowering health care costs and improving quality.

Trump’s remarks contradict earlier comments he made during the first Republican debate in August 2015, where he said Canada’s single-payer system works.

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