Canadians and Healthcare: Satisfaction and feelings about delivery options in 2023

On behalf of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, Abacus Data and Spark Insights conducted a nationwide survey of 1,500 adult Canadians.  The interviewing was done online between February 20 and 25, 2023.  This is the first of a series of releases highlighting key findings from that study. More information can be sought from Susan Murray of CLHIA (  or Bruce Anderson (


Barely half (54%) of Canadians say the healthcare system is working well enough to meet their needs. Two-thirds say is it not working well enough across the country, or in their province.  Only Quebec finds a majority giving passing grades to their provincial government.

Since 2021, negative ratings for both the federal government (up 21 points to 49% poor/very poor) and provincial governments (up 15 points to 48% poor/very poor, have grown significantly.


Canadians are most unhappy about access to specialists, long-term care, surgical care, and timely emergency room care. Negative feelings about these topics are up by more than 10 points since 2021.

Canadians are more satisfied with access to virtual care, and with the amount that they pay for prescription drugs, physiotherapy, and affordable eye care.

While a majority (60%) say their access to a family doctor is excellent or good enough, 4 in ten say the system is falling short of their needs in this area. Unhappiness with this aspect of health care is up 16 points since 2021. Alongside sharp rises in unhappiness around access to a family doctor, surgical care, long-term care, and emergency care, we also see a 17-point increase in unhappiness with access to mental health services.  Today, 49% say the system is falling short of their needs. Problems in this area are most acutely felt by younger Canadians.


Just under half (47%) of Canadians think that health care in Canada today is exclusively delivered by public sector organizations, while 53% perceive a blend of public and private delivery. A majority (62%) would prefer to see a blend of public and private sector delivery, “as long as costs are covered by provincial health systems or insurance coverage”.

Most (64%) Canadians access employer, group, or private insurance plans that help them with the costs of eye care, prescriptions, dental care, and other health services: 41% have a workplace plan, 14 % have another form of group plan, and 9% purchase insurance privately.

90% believe these insurance plans represent an example of private sector involvement in health care that has been a positive for Canada. Even 90% of those who don’t have access to such plans believe they have been a positive for Canada.

88% of those who have a benefits plan place either a great deal of value (46%) or quite a bit of value (42%) on having access to that plan. The average plan user estimates that their plan saved their household $913 in prescription drug costs last year, $816 in dental care costs, and $339 in eye care costs.

A large majority (81%) feel it is a positive to have privately run health clinics where people can see doctors and have procedures done provided they do not pay out of pocket. A smaller majority (59%) say private clinics where “people can pay out of pocket if they want to have a medical procedure in a timelier fashion” is a positive development in Canadian health care.

This open-mindedness towards delivery innovation is because of the acute sense that things need to improve.  A majority feel “I want politicians to make sure health care is available and free to me and am willing to consider all ideas that help this happen”.


Many Canadians are finding the healthcare system is failing to meet current needs. Opinions have deteriorated sharply, and pressure is evident both on the federal and provincial levels of government. Surgeries, ER care, long-term care, and mental health supports are among the most acute areas of public discontent.

People want health system improvement and this means that they are more open to non-public delivery alternatives than might have been the case in the past.  They want policymakers to be open to innovations as well.  Workplace or group insurance is already experienced by many as an effective way for private sector organizations to help people get the health services they need affordably.


The survey was conducted with 1,500 Canadian adults from February 20 to 25, 2023. A random sample of panelists were invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are typically double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.

The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.6%, 19 times out of 20.

The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

This survey was paid for by the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association.

Abacus Data follows the CRIC Public Opinion Research Standards and Disclosure Requirements that can be found here:


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