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Recently the media have been filled with reports that a majority of Canadians support private health care because theyre sick of lengthy waiting lists. The most recent Pollara poll, published in the second week of November, says that 73 per cent of Canadians believe people without “timely access to health care” should have the option of using private facilities.

Yet recent studies show that far from reducing wait times, private health care can mean even longer lineups.

One recent study found that waiting times in Manitoba for cataract surgery for doctors operating in both the private and public sectors was 130 per cent longer than for those operating only in the public sector up to 13 weeks longer.

And in Ralph Kleins home province, a study by the Alberta branch of the Consumers Association of Canada found that those waiting for cataract surgery waited the longest when their opthamologist had a foot in both public hospitals and private clinics up to a year, compared to an average six week wait for the public system.

A recent Health Canada study concluded that “Despite repeated calls for private financing to relieve an over-taxed public system, we could find no evidence, from Canada or elsewhere, to support the notion that this would be an effective solution.

“Indeed, if anything, the evidence points in the opposite direction. Where we find private funding, we find generally worse access for publicly funded patients, particularly in cases where physicians are permitted to serve both public and private patients.”