Sample Essay Paper on Critical Perspectives on Health in Canada

Critical Perspectives on Health in Canada

Health is a condition of complete physical, psychological and social comfort, rather than the absence of infection. Canadian health care system has experienced an upward rise for the past two decades due to change in medicine, as well as the government’s consideration. Generally, Canadian people are perceived to be among the world’s healthiest people since government has been quite sensitive on health matters. Women’s life expectancy in this country is higher than that of men by approximately six years. However, gender bias has discouraged women from achieving financial well-being, since they do not earn the same salary as men. Although women’s health today is much better than it was 20 years ago, their progress is still low, as compared to men. This study will focus on the health care system in Canada in terms of quality, as well as in life expectancy.

Health Care in Canada

Canada is perceived as a global leader in health care policy, especially on women’s health. The health sector in Canada has been delivering heath care service through Canada Health Act, which ensures that every citizen has adequate access to health care services without discrimination. The public-funded health care system is mainly free in public health facilities. The universal healthcare system in Canada does not incorporate prescription medication. The country is endeavoring to achieve the Millenium Development Goal that advocated for a 75% decline in global mortality starting from 1990 to 2015.

Canada’s spending on health care has been on the rise since the 1970s. The country spends about 9.5% of its GDP on health care, compared to the US, which around 14% of its national income on health care. According to Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), the total health expenditure has been rising at an average of $9.2 billion per year for the last ten years, which was supported by the growth of the country’s GDP (National Health Expenditure Trends 10). However, a decline in GDP, which was recorded in 2009, lead to a reduction in health care expenditure in the subsequent years. In 2011, 11.4% of the country’s GDP was channeled to health care while in 2012 and 2013, this level dropped to 11.3% and 11.2% respectively. A critical look by CIHI concluded that health care spending is growing, but at a slower rate than the last decade.

Since the mid-1990s, the government of Canada slashed all those programs that failed to match its industrialized nature, leading to reduced spending on programs that addressed violence against women, as well as appropriate health care. The quality of health in Canada is facing a decline if the government will not review its spending on health care. The rate of maternal deaths in the globe has declined by about 1.5% from 1980 to 2008. However, report by WHO have shown that maternal mortality rates in Canada has risen from 6 per 100,000 live births to 12 per 100,000 live births between 1990 and 2008 (Rowe 989). This rate has not changed for the last five years. According to this report, the rise was mainly attributed to puerperal sepsis, an infection associated to giving birth.

HIV prevalence in Canada was quite high in the 1990s due to high incidences of homosexuality, as well as injection drug use (IDU). Cases of IDU rose from 2% in 1990 to around 16% in 1998. In this period, more women contracted HIV and AIDS from IDU than men. Over 40% of people who suffer from HIV infections in Canada fall in the age of 30 to 39 years, and they probably were infected while they were in their 20s. The death rate among women of all ages is much lower compared to men.

Lifestyle diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease, have been among the leading cause of deaths in Canada, accounting to about 22% of all deaths. Although some of these diseases do not kill, they contribute immensely to poverty due to persistent seeking of medical attention at a cost. Nowadays, the number of women who are dying due to preventable diseases, such as cervical cancer, lung cancer, and diabetes, is higher than it used to be in the 1990s. The most widespread cancer among women is the breast cancer. From 1992 to 2007, the percentage of women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer rose by 34% (Turcotte). Although concern about obesity has been in existence since the 1930s, the prevalence of obesity has been on the rise to women whose age does not exceed 65 years in the twenty-first century.

Despite numerous challenges in its attempts to improve its health sector, Canada enjoyed several benefits in terms of health. According to the UNDP Human Development Report for 2012 and 2013, the level of inequality seems to go down in Canada (gender Inequality Index). This is due to the rise in income, affordable childcare, education achievement, and the expansion of government’s policy on offering equal opportunities to both men and women. Literacy is normally associated with good health. The country has recorded almost 100% enrollment of all females aged 25 years and above in secondary schools. The federal government has reviewed the policy for eliminating violence against women to enhance their health and survival.

Life expectancy in Canada has been going up since the 1990 when it was at 77.2 years. The current statistics show that this figure has risen to 81.5 years in 2013. High life expectancy in Canada is attributed to health behaviors that include health care access, insurance, healthy eating, and lower cigarette smoking (Lutz, Butz and Samir 231). Women have begun to note some improvements in the recent years, as new policies start to produce fruits. In 2003, women who are beyond 45 years and below 64 years reported that their health was much better compared to how it was six years ago. According to Turcutte, 53% of women aged 45 to 64 reported that their health status had improved in 2003 while in 2009, the level increased to 59%. The women’s health movement has contributed immensely in raising the welfare of women in Canada through compelling the federal government to fund the health sector.


The quality of health care in Canada is quite high, compared to other developed country due to the federal government’s effort in ensuring every citizen has access to appropriate health care facilities. High enrolment in secondary education has also contributed to better health care, as educated people are capable of maintaining good health. These practices have enabled the life expectancy in the country to continue rising for the last two decades.  However, slow growth of the country’s GDP has contributed to a decline in the expenditure on health care. Several programs that meant to improve women’s health have been abandoned in an attempt to balance health care spending. Maternal deaths are on the rise, and if the government does not offer a long-term solution, this level is likely to rise further. In general, the quality of health in Canada is better than how it was in the 1990s hence high life expectancy to both men and women.

Works Cited

“Gender Inequality Index” United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Reports, n.d. Web. 20 October 2014

“National Health Expenditure Trends, 1975 to 2013.” Canadian Institute for Health Information, 2013. Web. 20 October 2014

Lutz, Wolfgang, William P. Butz and KC Samir. World population and human capital in the twenty first century. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. Print.

Rowe, Timothy. “Maternal mortality.” J Obstet Gynaecol Can 33.10 (2011): 989-990.

Turcotte, Martin. “Women and health.”Statistics Canada, May 13, 2013. Web. 18 October 2014