Dalhousie Law Journal


Canada, health care, law, reform, long-term care, pharmaceuticals, mental illness, aboriginals, government, aging population


Canadians have often prided themselves on having one of the best health-care systems in the world, but in recent years our system has fallen to the bottom of relevant international comparisons. Incremental attempts to improve the system have not resulted in significant improvements and the reality is that our most pressing challenges can be addressed only through ambitious, systemic reforms. For example, it is well established that Canada's patchwork scheme for providing long-term care will not scale to meet growing needs as a quarter ofthe population enters retirement age over the next two decades.' As yet further examples, the Canadian "universal" system does not include essential services such as pharmaceuticals needed outside of hospital walls,2 our present system fails to meet the needs of those living with mental illnesses,3 and there is a persistent gap between the health outcomes ofAboriginal peoples and other Canadians.' Creative solutions are urgently needed as we face a perfect storm ofoutdated health system design, an aging population, provincial governments paying out over 50% of total revenues to health care, and aggressive court challenges from proponents of increased privatization.