Health: High-Risk Uninsured Workers in Canada

The Story:

Americans who want a single-payer health insurance system often look to Canada as a model. But recent developments there, with regard specifically to the Covid-19 pandemic, indicate that Canada has a variant of the classic US problem: the most at-risk workers are also those most likely to have fallen between the insurance cracks.


A recent study by the ICES. a health-care think tank headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, indicates that people uncovered by the Canadian system — undocumented workers and claimants for refugee status — are often at high risk for catching Covid. They may live in high-risk neighborhoods or perform front-line work. In either case, they are the ones whom one might want vaccinated first. Yet (ICES also observes) they may have to navigate paperwork oceans to get that inoculation.

Even as between one pharmacy and another within the same retail chain, there can be variation in procedures: one may require a health card before the inoculation, the next may not.

The Thing to Know:

Canada’s vaccine program has made in-roads with regard to the Canadian born, or the long term residents: 38% of them have received at least one dose of the vaccine. But with regard to refugees that number falls to 22%. With regard to recent provincial health care registrants, it is only 12%.

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