Book Review: Canadian Medicare: We Need It and We Can Keep It by Stephen Duckett and Adrian Peetoom

By Adrian Helleman

From the Catalyst, Summer 2015

Canadian Medicare: We Need It and We Can Keep It
By Stephen Duckett and Adrian Peetoom
McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013

Reviewed by Adrian Helleman

In this book, Stephen Duckett, an expert in public health, and Adrian Peetoom, an author and publisher who is well-known to some CPJ members, describe the current medicare system in Canada and also prescribe some much-needed improvements.

Canadians are rightly proud of their healthcare system and often contrast it with the American one. However, it is under threat from economic, demographic, and financial forces. This 50 year-old system is sustainable, Duckett and Peetoom argue, if some changes are made. Among other things, they advocate improved primary care, especially for chronic diseases; a better strategy for taking care of the elderly; the introduction of pharmacare; and improvements to the work culture in our hospitals. In the appendix, the authors list all their recommendations – more than 30 of them.

Canadian medicare can be sustained without crippling cutbacks or exorbitant taxes, but it does need fine tuning which requires both being cost conscious and providing proper care. The authors remain hopeful of success, even though they cannot guarantee it. Their prescription provides signposts that politicians and healthcare providers can follow since they are the ones who must implement the changes.

This book is exceptionally well-written by two writers who not only have academic expertise but also practical experience in the healthcare system. Their recommendations should be studied by everyone who uses it, and we must then advocate them to those who can make these changes. You and I are involved because the Canadian healthcare system is only as good as we collectively make it.

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