Canada`s Health Care and Social Assistance

Health care and Social assistance is a  sector in Canada which contains  establishments engaged mainly in granting health care by diagnosis and treatment, offering residential care for the reasons of medical and social, and offering social assistance to those who are in need. Such assistance includes counseling, welfare, child protection, community housing and food services, child care and vocational rehabilitation.

The Health Care and Social Assistance in Canada is comprised of Ambulatory Health Care Services (NAICS 621), Hospitals (NAICS 622), Nursing and Residential Care Facilities (NAICS 623) and Social Assistance (NAICS 624).

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The size of health care and social assistance in GDP is constantly increasing. In December 2005 the size of GDP is 60,894 in November 2006. Its size rose to 62,106 and continued to rise in December 2006 to 62,256.  However, comparing it with the 1990 share of GDP, it fell to nearly 8%.

Unlike the share of GDP, employment has grown faster. Employment is more consistently increasing for Health Care and Social Assistance industry. In the year 2002 it has 1,617.3 employees then rose in 2003 with 1,679.2 employees. In 2004 it rose with 1,733.4 and kept rising till 2006 with 1,785.5. In hospitals, over 34% are employed in this industry while offices for doctors and surgeons, labs, and other practitioners’ offices like chiropractors, optometrists, and physiotherapists are offering 27% of the personnel.

For social assistance, 22% work at agencies and organizations providing the services. These include homecare, foster care, welfare, support groups, and others and 17% are employed for nursing homes and the like.


Canada’s Health Care System, often called as “medicare” is designed to make sure that all residents are given reasonable access to hospitals and services of physicians. It is provided on a prepaid basis. Canada has a national program that encompasses 13 health insurance plans interconnecting provinces and territories.  The principles that govern Canada’s health care system are indicative of the fundamental values of equity and solidarity in Canada.

The federal and provincial-territorial governments share roles and responsibilities.

“Under the Canada Health Act (CHA), our federal health insurance legislation, criteria and conditions are specified that must be satisfied by the provincial and territorial health care insurance plans in order for them to qualify for their full share of the federal cash contribution, available under the Canada Health Transfer (CHT). Provincial and territorial governments are responsible for the management, organization and delivery of health services for their residents.” (2007)

Several years ago, a consensus had come forward on an agenda to renew the health care in Canada. This is to ensure that the people in Canada have access to the health care that they need.

One of the concerns to renew Canada’s health care is to reduce wait times and to improve access.

Come March 31, 2007 reductions in wait times should be achieved in priority areas like cancer, sight restoration, heart, etc. The wait time reduction fund will increase existing investments in provinces and territories. The fund is also to be used mainly for training, hiring additional health professionals, clear backlogs, expansion of ambulatory and community care programs.

Another concern is to have a strategic health human resource action plan. More health care professionals are needed. To make sure that there is an adequate supply of health care professionals, it is important to increase work on health human resources action plans which puts up on current work in the division of labor relations, training on interdisciplinary, post-secondary education investments and credentialing health professionals.

A very important part of the contemporary and built-in health care is Home care. It is recognized and acknowledged that services supplied in homes are more appropriate and economical than hospital care. It is more convenient that access to Home care services are improved as it will also improve the quality of life for those who need it. Moreover, utilizing the services of home care will help reduce the wait time in acute hospitals.

Some concerns also include primary care reform; access to care in the north; national pharmaceuticals strategy; prevention, promotion and public health; health innovation; accountability and reporting to citizens; and dispute avoidance and resolution which are also now being taken care of by the government of Canada.


In Canada, social assistance refers to benefits which are income-related or means-tested and are available to those whose incomes are insufficient to keep a minimum standard of living in the absence additional support.

Each province and territory is responsible for designing, administering and delivering its own program to people with insufficient resources.  Through this, people who apply undergo a needs test to make them eligible of the assistance. This test take into account the assets and income of the applicant including his basic needs which include clothing, food, shelter, utilities, and personal necessities and needs and everything which is inclusive in the definition in provincial legislation. Eligibility requirements are also categorized for those who apply.

For the registered Indians Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development is the one responsible for providing social assistance.

There are main conditions in order to be entitled to social assistance which vary from province to province. It is then decided if these conditions are met after the needs test is done. Generally, need is the only requirement to be eligible with social assistance.

One condition is Financial Eligibility. During the needs test, the household’s financial resources are compared with the person’s needs. However, assistance should not be over the allowable cost set aside by the government per person/household.

Another condition is Administrative Eligibility. To establish the applicants initial eligibility a basic administrative requirements should be completed.

One more condition is Categorical Eligibility. Other than financial needs, applicants’ reasons for assistance vary and they are categorized according to it.

Assistance payments can also be portable wherein they can receive assistance while they are in another province or country. However, this does not happen in any case. Portability occurs only if the person has a valid reason like education program. When the client relocates to another province, he should apply for assistance in that province which subjects him to eligibility requirements again.

There are a number of evaluations in social assistance which are intended for the re-entry to the labor force, thus, eventually makes them financially independent. This includes a broad range of employment support programs and services.


Health Care and Social Assistance is now experiencing a major change in terms of services. Taking into consideration the long waiting list for surgery, hospital bed shortages, overcrowded emergency rooms, and funds reduction it is most likely to continue through years. Thus debates were formed about ways of paying the costs.

It has been seen that the need for health care and social assistance is not a variable issue. Whether the economy grows or falls, people still get sick and enjoy their social assistance benefits. Employment, on the other hand, for this industry will continue to grow, in fact, a little faster by 2014 while the share of total GDP suppose to rise to 9%. It is therefore one sector where a need for employees will possibly increase rather than fall.


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