Federated Health Charities’ mission is to improve the health and quality of life of all Ontarians by supporting 21 different health charities providing critical services to those experiencing, or affected by, illness. We believe education and prevention are key parts of supporting the health of our communities so our weekly Health Hint series strives to provide tangible and easy to implement hints and tips on how to maintain your health, prevent disease, and enjoy increased quality of life. Check out our latest Health Hint on the need for health charities. We hope you find it helpful. If you would like to join our efforts to support the health of Ontario please consider a donation to Federated Health Charities.
Canada is known for its universal healthcare system. It is a system that ensures Canadian residents can have access to quality healthcare for free. Because of this, people often ask why there is a need for health charities. Is there any point in donating to these organizations when our healthcare system is already publicly funded? The answer is yes, there is absolutely a need for health charities as they provide essential services. Here we will breakdown the healthcare system a bit further, how it is funded, and how charities fit in.
Canada’s healthcare system is publicly funded and known as Medicare (Health Charities Coalition of Canada, 2016, p. 4). This system provides access to free, medically necessary services including appointments with physicians and hospital care to residents (Health Charities Coalition of Canada, 2016, p. 4). The system consists of thirteen provincial and territorial plans, rather than one single national plan (Government of Canada, 2016). Due to this, there is a division of responsibilities between the federal and provincial/territorial levels of government. The federal government is responsible for creating and regulating national standards for the healthcare system, allocating funding for provincial and territorial healthcare services, and the provision of other health-related functions. (Government of Canada, 2016). Provincial and territorial governments responsibilities are carried out by OHIP and are funded through taxes collected from Ontario residents. OHIP pays for a majority of basic medical and emergency services received in Ontario, as long as they are required for medical reasons (Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, n.d.). Provincial and territorial responsibilities include public administration of plans, creating a comprehensive plan that covers all medically necessary services, ensuring all residents are covered by services, coverage of those travelling within Canada, and ensuring accessibility (Government of Canada, 2016).
How Health Charities Fit In
Given this, it may seem like healthcare charities are unnecessary, as many health services are already covered under provincial and territorial plans. However, because Medicare is medical model-based, this does not allow for funding to go into many forms of support or research. This results in a gap in our healthcare services, which health charities help fill. Through the funding they receive from donations, they provide support for patients and caregivers in several ways (CanadaHelps, n.d.), including:
- by providing information on specific diseases, illnesses, and conditions, and their preventions, symptoms management and treatments.
- patient advocacy, through participating in public policy discussions on their behalf.
- raise awareness about essential issues pertaining to illnesses and advocate for systemic change.
- provision of support for patients and caregivers, such as patient support groups, online discussion forums, rehabilitation programs, and patient self-help management programs (Health Charities Coalition of Canada, 2016).
All of these services are critical for patients and caregivers, as they help them navigate the illness and offer the support they cannot receive elsewhere.
These are just a few reasons why healthcare charities are necessary and funding them is important, despite Canada’s universal healthcare model. While the Medicare model addresses many healthcare needs, there are other forms of support that it does not offer. These forms of support are provided by healthcare charities and are essential.
We hope you enjoyed our latest Health Hint!
Written by Faria Raisa Amin
CanadaHelps. (n.d.). Donate to health charities.
Government of Canada. (2016). Canada’s health care system.
Health Charities Coalition of Canada. (2016). The how to health guide.
Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. (2017). About the health care system in Ontario. http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/common/system/default.aspx#1