Survey: Access to healthcare top priority for Ontarians
October 13, 2021
TORONTO – Improving access to healthcare, including shorter wait times and more doctors, is the top healthcare issue for Ontarians, according to an online survey by the Ontario Medical Association.
Almost 8,000 Ontarians from 600 communities across the province took part in the survey, which asked them to identify their healthcare priorities and how healthcare in their community could be improved.
Respondents made clear that fixing the cracks in the healthcare system that were exposed and widened during the COVID-19 pandemic was important to them. Half said this should be given the same priority as economic recovery and another 36 per cent said this should have the highest priority above all other issues.
Their responses appear to be based on both perception and personal experience, with 12 per cent saying either they or a relative had serious surgery or treatment for other serious conditions delayed by three to six months because of COVID-19 and another 27 per cent reporting delays of six months or more.
Yet despite the importance of healthcare, more than 80 per cent of survey respondents said the issue was not being discussed in their community or was being discussed only somewhat.
“Doctors asked Ontarians to share their views on healthcare and we’re listening closely to their responses,” said OMA president Dr. Adam Kassam (pictured). “We’re taking what we heard and developing recommendations on how to work with government and healthcare partners to create the best healthcare system possible.”
Wait times was the issue most frequently selected by survey respondents as the top healthcare priority in Ontario; 29 per cent made it their top choice. That’s on top of pre-pandemic wait times for diagnostic tests, some surgeries and other treatments.
The survey also found 19 per cent of respondents ranked the need for more doctors as the most pressing healthcare priority. It was tied at 19 per cent with seniors’ healthcare. Thirteen per cent of respondents said their top priority was better access to mental health issues and addictions services.
When asked what was the single most important thing that could be done to improve healthcare in their community today:
- 38 per cent of respondents chose investments in new hospitals, clinics and other facilities to improve access
- 32 per cent selected a prevention strategy to keep people healthy and out of hospitals and doctor’s offices
- 26 per cent said making it easier to get a doctor’s appointment
“The pandemic proved that Ontario cannot have a strong economy without a robust, resilient, and reliable healthcare system,” said OMA CEO Allan O’Dette. “We must future-proof our healthcare system so we don’t repeat the same challenges we’ve faced during the last eighteen months.”
The survey posed nine questions and asked people to select from a number of options in their responses. The survey was conducted during the summer and early fall and remains open at betterhealthcare.ca. The OMA’s ongoing public polls and research by IPSOS and Advanced Symbolics Inc. have found similar public sentiment.
About the OMA
The Ontario Medical Association represents Ontario’s 43,000 plus physicians, medical students and retired physicians, advocating for and supporting doctors while strengthening the leadership role of doctors in caring for patients. Our vision is to be the trusted voice in transforming Ontario’s healthcare system.