In 1998, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien observed that the way Macleans does the annual ranking of universities is “exactly what we would like to do with medicare.” In the current issue, with strong support from an independent national agency and our own statistician, Macleans moves much closer to a comprehensive ranking of health care in Canada. For the first time, data supplied by the Canadian Institute for Health Information and Statistics Canada have been used to evaluate the availability of care and treatment in 50 health regions, covering 85 per cent of the Canadian people. We believe it is an important step along the road to greater accountability in a system that annually costs Canadians $86 billion.
In a nutshell, the more affluent and better-educated regions also enjoy the best health services. This means that suburbs of Vancouver and Toronto rank highly, as do cities such as Victoria, Edmonton and Ottawa. But there is also a reassuring lesson for more remote regions: taking better care of your health and having better local administrations can make a difference.
A good example is the sprawling Chinook Health Region in southwestern Alberta, centred in Lethbridge, but stretching from the Rockies to Taber. It tied for first
place with Moncton, N.B., in the category ranking health regions with a largely rural component (and both ranked 17th overall in the country). In addition to amalgamating 14 disparate health boards in the Chinook district, there has been a special push for long-term care, to reduce pressure on acute-care facilities.
Even administrators who fare poorly in the rankings understand why. Joe de Mora, president of the Sudbury Regional Hospital, whose sprawling region placed 49th out of 50, notes that many patients there are in poor health even before they have to seek help. “We know for a fact that in the North the population generally speaking is more ill.”
Overseeing the second annual ranking was Macleans Assistant Managing Editor Robert Marshall, who worked closely with CIHIs director of analysis, Jennifer Zelmer, and statistician David Andrews at the University of Toronto. Marcia Chen was principal researcher on the cover package, designed by Art Director Nick Burnett and Assistant Art Director Eric Legge.
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