Dalhousie Law Journal


Canada, Medicare, General Agreement on Trade in Services, privatization, health care, regulate, insure, fund


There is perhaps no more cherished Canadian institution than our universal health-care system, Medicare. Despite Canadians' fondness for Medicare, there are often allegations that various external elements threaten Medicare's viability. One of these oft-cited elements is the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), which some have claimed will force the privatization of all public services. The truth in such claims is tested by examining the effect the GATS is likely to have on the Canadian health-care system. The examination includes an interpretation of GATS Article 1.3 through a textual analysis. GATS' impact on this system is explored on three levels: the ability to regulate, the ability to insure/fund publiclyand the ability to provide publicly. From this analysis, it is shown that the GATS poses little threat to the continued public nature of Medicare: governments can still regulate who can provide health services and their quality; governments can still fund whichever medical services they wish; whether or not governments publicly provide health services is only slightly affected by the GATS and really has no impact on the public nature of Medicare.