Most Albertans think the health care system is excellent or very good, but that good cheer appears to come from their experience with family doctors, according to a survey by the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI).

That's just one of the insights in the CIHI survey, which compared Canada to Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the U.S.

Canada generally under-performed when compared to average responses from those countries, but there was also variation between provinces. Alberta fared well in primary care, according to respondents.

Alberta just barely missed the international average on ease of access to non-emergency care at night, on weekends and on holidays, and was the best performer among the provinces — almost ten percentage points higher than the Canadian average.

Those who managed to see a doctor or nurse the same or the next day after requesting an appointment was also above the Canadian average, but was below the international threshold. B.C. was the only province to outperform Alberta. 

Alberta sunk a little in the minds of those surveyed when it comes to getting a prompt answer after contacting their doctor's office with a medical concern, falling just short of the Canadian average and well back from the international figure. 

The performance of Alberta's primary care could be a factor in the fact only 30 per cent of respondents said the last visit to an emergency room was for a non-emergency condition. Alberta was well below the average in Canada and bested its international counterparts. 

However, we do seem to require a significant amount of emergency care, particularly when compared to other countries. Within Canada only New Brunswick has as many serious injuries. 

Alberta was third best among the provinces for emergency wait times, with only 22 per cent saying they waited four or more hours to be seen. Saskatchewan and B.C. topped the list. 

Alberta also led the country for discussions between patients and doctors on healthy lifestyle choices, including not smoking, reduced drinking, healthy eating, stress, and exercise. It outperformed all other countries in the percentage of respondents that have had these discussions with doctors. 

Among those surveyed, 54 per cent of Albertans thought the health-care system was excellent or very good and 38 per cent thought the system works well with only minor changes needed to fix it. 

Read the full survey below.

CIHI survey

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