Canada’s Health System and Health Policy


n/a (see below) There are no formal course prerequisites. However, course assignments require:

  • a basic understanding of the major elements of Canada’s health care system
  • an awareness of major trends and issues
  • a developed ability to read and use course materials and other sources to research and write graduate-level, analytic assignments
  • developed English language (reading and writing) abilities.



The Canadian health care system (Medicare) remains a top policy issue and a key-defining characteristic of Canadian identity. There continues to be strong public and political support for Medicare’s guiding principles: universality, comprehensiveness, accessibility, public administration and portability. Yet, as recent federal and provincial reports on health care have emphasized, Medicare faces tremendous challenges. An aging and increasingly diverse population, new diseases, new and more costly medical technologies, as well as changing values and expectations have generated rising and more complex demands. There is an increasing emphasis on community-based health promotion and social support in contrast to more traditional care in hospitals and institutional settings. Individuals and communities are demanding a greater role in decisions about their health and the use of scarce health resources at the same time as the pressures of globalization begin to constrain the capacity of governments to implement domestic policy solutions. In spite of billions of new health care dollars, public concerns about long waits for care in Canada continue to fuel debate about the “sustainability” of publicly funded health care and the need for commercial health care options. HAD5011 (and HAD5010, its counterpart for students in the professional stream) is the first of two courses which develop and apply a policy analysis “tool kit” to critically analyze key issues and trends in Canada’s health care system and health policy. Course sections examine the current state of health care in Canada, the public-private mix, the influence of powerful interest groups, and the shift toward home and community care, paying particular attention to the ideas, interests, and institutions which have shaped the Canadian health care system in the past and continue to shape its future. HAD5010/5011 is designed for health professionals and students of health policy who need to “make sense” of a rapidly changing and increasingly politicized health care environment in which “evidence” is often only one, but rarely the most important factor driving change. HAD5011 is directed towards students in research streams (MSc/PhD) who must demonstrate strong analytical skills and a more developed mastery of the research literature.


This course has two purposes: introduce students to some key content about current trends and issues in Canada’s health care system and health policy; and develop analytic tools for critically analyzing them. By bringing together students, tutors and faculty from a range of different disciplines and backgrounds, the course also aims to increase understanding and awareness of the range of interests, ideas and approaches, which shape ongoing health policy debates. This course develops analytic tools for critically analyzing current trends and issues in Canada’s health care system and health policy. Upon successful completion of this course, you should be able to:

  • Identify and discuss major elements of Canada’s health care system
  • Describe key issues and trends in health care delivery and health policy
  • Demonstrate a developed understanding of basic tools for policy analysis
  • Apply these tools to analyze critically current issues and trends in Canada’s health care system


Fiona Miller

Fiona A. Miller

Accepting Students

HSR – Health Policy Emphasis Lead


Evaluation is based on active participation in tutorials, 2 briefing notes, an oral presentation and an analytic paper.