About Canada Series

About Canada: Health Care, 2nd ed.

by Pat Armstrong and Hugh Armstrong  

This second edition is an accessible, up-to-date introduction to how the Canadian health care system works, how it is changing and what can be done to make it better.

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  • April 2016
  • ISBN: 9781552668252
  • 190 pages
  • $20.00
  • For sale worldwide
  • EPUB September 2016
  • ISBN: 9781552668412
  • $19.99
  • For sale worldwide

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About the book

Health care is Canada’s best-loved social program — and for good reason. For over forty years, Canadians have enjoyed high quality health services based on need rather than on ability to pay. Yet we hear almost daily accounts of problems with the system. We are bombarded with warnings that public health care is unsustainable, especially in light of the baby boomer generation reaching retirement age. Such stories can help undermine our support for public care even though they are often based on poor, partial or even false information. Our best defence of a public system is knowledge about how it works and how it can be improved in order to keep it.

This second edition of About Canada: Health Care is an accessible, up-to-date introduction to how the Canadian health care system works, how it is changing and what can be done to make it better. Pat and Hugh Armstrong explain a range of complicated and important questions: What do “public” and “private” mean as they apply to our current health care system and in proposed reforms? As the boomer generation ages, will the growing number of seniors bankrupt Medicare? What do we mean by wait times and are they increasing? Who pays for drugs and how can we ensure Canadians have equitable access to necessary drugs? Can technologies significantly improve care and reduce costs?

Health & Illness Public Policy


Pat Armstrong

Pat Armstrong is co-author or editor of such books on health care as Exposing Privatization: Women and Health Care Reform in Canada; Caring For/Caring About: Women, Home Care and Unpaid Caregiving; Heal Thyself: Managing Health Care Reform; Wasting Away: The Undermining of Canadian Health Care; Universal Health Care: What the United States Can Learn From Canada; Vital Signs: Nursing in Transition; and Take Care: Warning Signals for Canada’s Health System. She has co-edited books on the political economy of health and on feminism. She has also published on a wide variety of issues related to women’s work and to social policy.

She has served as Chair of the Department of Sociology at York University and Director of the School of Canadian Studies at Carleton University. She is a partner in the National Network on Environments and Women’s Health and chairs a working group on health reform that crosses the Centres of Excellence for Women’s Health. She is also a site director for the Ontario Training Centre in Health Services and Policy Research. Her current SSHRC-funded research looks at how women define quality health care. In addition, she has a CIHR-funded project that compares conditions in Canada’s long-term care facilities with those in Nordic countries. Like most of her past research, this project relies primarily on the perspectives of those who actually provide or manage care within the system.

She is involved as well in large collaborative research projects. One looks at the hidden costs and contributions in homecare; another explores health information technology and a third looks at precarious employment in health care. The latter project is connected to the development of the gender and work database, a project of the Canada Research Chair in Feminist Political Economy. Pat’s most recent funding supports research into cutbacks in women’s health services in Toronto.

In addition to these national and international research projects, Pat Armstrong is involved in a number of civil society organizations. She is a Board member of the Canadian Health Coalition, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Skyworks Foundation.

Hugh Armstrong

Hugh Armstrong is a professor in the School of Social Work and in the Institute of Political Economy at Carleton University. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Council on Aging of Ottawa and on the Community Advisory Committee of the Ottawa Hospital.


  • Why Care?
  • How Did We Get Here?
  • What Did We Get?
  • What Did We Not Get?
  • Reforming Primary Care
  • What Are the Main Issues Today?
  • Privatization Threats
  • Strategies for Change
  • Notes
  • Index


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