It's driven some Canadians to private for-profit clinics. A new one opens somewhere in Canada almost every week. Although it's not clear that such private clinics are legal, one is run by the president of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Brian Day, because under government care, he says, "We found ourselves in a situation where we were seeing sick patients and weren't being allowed to treat them. That was something that we couldn't tolerate."
Canadians stuck on waiting lists often pay "medical travel agents" to get to America for treatment. Shirley Healey had a blocked artery that kept her from digesting food. So she hired a middleman to help her get to a hospital in Washington state.
"The doctor said that I would have only had a very few weeks to live," Healey said.
Yet the Canadian government calls her surgery "elective."
"The only thing elective about this surgery was I elected to live," she said.
Not all Canadian health care is long lines and lack of innovation. We found one place where providers offer easy access to cutting-edge life-saving technology, such as CT scans. And patients rarely wait.
But they have to bark or meow to get access to this technology. Vet clinics say they can get a dog or a cat in the next day. People have to wait a month.