Canada's healthcare system: Enjoy the beauty of choice

Written By Ivanna Hirnyak
Image of a bunch of people celebrating Canada Day
Photo by janheuninck via flickr Creative Commons

​I recently overheard a conversation between my friends:​

“Can you imagine? He refused the treatment and his parents weren’t informed about the change of his condition!”

“How old is he?”

“27, but he is still thinking like a child.”

“Well, it’s his choice. He is old enough to make his own decision”

Did this conversation surprise you? If so, you might be a newcomer to Canada like me. Welcome to the largest multicultural society in the world! Let me introduce you to Canada’s healthcare system. Here you have the right to:

  • Have the details of your diagnosis or treatment kept private, even from your family
  • Choose your treatment options without your family if you so choose
  • Make your own choice to refuse or accept treatment

For people new to Canada, it may be difficult to have the same relationship with your doctor as you’re used to back home. Here in Canada, you are responsible for the main decisions of your life. It’s a new challenge to have to be aware of everything and have control of your health by yourself. But this is a good thing; what’s good for you may be bad for someone else. Nobody else can tell you what is right or wrong in your situation.

In my few months being in Canada, I’ve learned that the main goal is to make sure everybody feels they have a choice and can achieve emotional satisfaction while improving their health. It’s a benefit of being in a multicultural society. We are one group of people who are guided by the same policies and regulation but there is room to adjust for subgroups with different beliefs and habits. Think of it like passengers on a bus. We’re all heading in the same direction, following the same rules of not disturbing each other, and paying the ticket price. But we each have different preferences on how we spend our time while riding.

Canada’s healthcare system is about the unique and individual situations of everybody. It’s your life and your health. Here in Canada, you can think about what’s right for you, express your wishes, and make a decision for yourself.​