Medicare supporters should stick to values arguments - Nik Nanos
Pollster says Canadians are too complacent about universal health care.
[Featuring YouTube video]. Pollster Nik Nanos says the main challenge to keeping medicare is the complacency of Canadians. In an interview with Ish Theilheimer of Straight Goods News at the Canadian Health Coalition 30th anniversary event in November, he said public advocates need to focus on promoting the values on which the system is based. Here is a transcription of the interview provided by volunteer Andrew S. McEwen:
IT: There have been various incursions to Medicare in Canada with private health clinics appearing. What are you polls telling you about Canadians attitudes?
NN: Well that attitude actually is largely driven by the perception of long wait lines and the belief among some Canadians that for-profit health care is the solution to shortening waiting lines. So that's really what the focus is and you know when Canadians cite what they like about universal health care it usually has to do with accessibility, the fact that it;s free and affordable, and you know when they talk about potential weaknesses of the public health care system usually wait lines is the number one concern that they have in regards to public health care. So it's not surprising that you know for those that would like to see more profit in the health care system their focus or wedge communication relates to wait lines and their assertion that they can be shorter in a mixed system.
IT: Does your polling work and what does your understand of polling that's been done tell you what kind of arguments will work best in the struggle that the people in this room are waging to save Medicare?
NN: Yeah, I think basically stick to the basics in regards to insuring that there is health care that is accessible to all, Insuring that Canadians have access to services, that quality is strong, that health care is funded so that we have the necessary doctors and nurses in order to insure that we have strong health care outcomes. I think the challenge is that making it relevant. You know it's kind of like a battle from the past and creating a sense of urgency is difficult and I think that's the real challenge right now to create a sense of urgency, to keep fighting for public health care.
IT: You've said that Canadians identify with Medicare they find it a big part of their identification as Canadians. Is that an old battle? Is that something that we need? I have the sense that in the battle over private health clinics there are arguments being made saying, "Medicare is good but now we have to move on." Is there a way to get back to that sense of Identity and make it work for advocates of Medicare?
NN: I think the number one challenge is complacency and that people take universal health care for granted. I think that's the number one challenge for those people that want to fight for public health care and you know it's a compelling argument on the other side to too say who's going to tell someone else they shouldn't have faster access to a medicine or to a medical procedure when they have a loved one that's ill. So you know there are compelling arguments on both sides but for those that want to fight for public health care their key priority should be the basics in regards to the economics of public health care and its ability to deliver universal access and health services to Canadians across the country.