Bernie Sanders says Canadian health care system sets a 'strong example' for U.S.

United States Senator Bernie Sanders waves after speaking at the University of Toronto during an event called "What the U.S. Can Learn from Canadian Health Care," in Toronto, Sunday October 29, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

TORONTO - High profile U.S Senator Bernie Sanders had high praise for Canada's health care system on Sunday, saying it's something American policy makers should pay attention to.

Sanders talked up Canadian health care on Sunday during a speech at the University of Toronto as part of a fact-finding trip to learn more about Canada's medical system.

The former presidential hopeful, who came up short in his bid to get the Democratic party's nomination last year, has introduced a bill in Congress to bring a government funded health system to the U.S.

"Right now in the United States of America, we have 28 million citizens who have no healthcare whatsoever," said Sanders, who said uninsured people are reluctant to go to doctors in a timely manner.

"I have talked to too many doctors who tell me that there are times when people walk into their offices so ill, that in fact that their situation is terminal unnecessarily."

While Sanders he called Canada's system innovative, he also countered that no country has a perfect system, and that every country should strive to do better.

"No country in the world has all of the answers and never will, as technology changes and needs change," said Sanders.

"We look all over the world and ask the hard questions, is it working better there, what can we do to make our system better?"

Kwame McKenzie, the CEO of Wellesley Institute, an organization that works to improve Canada's healthcare through policy change, said he appreciated Sanders' remarks because Canada still has a long way to go.

"The last time that Canada was compared on the world stage for its healthcare, our healthcare system came 11th," said McKenzie.

"There are a whole bunch of people who are getting better outcomes and comprehensive care than we have."

Kwame said he hopes that more Canadian specialists start speaking out about how health care can be improved.

Another expert at the event said that Sanders' presence in Canada will help to move that dialogue forward.

We know that there are lots of challenges and problems that we're trying to address," said Danielle Martin, Vice President of Medical Affairs and Health System Solutions at the Women's College Hospital.

"Having someone like Bernie Sanders come to Canada to learn from those basic values and principles... is a really good opportunity for Canadians to reconnect with those values."

Sanders closed off his speech encouraging Canadians to make themselves heard on the world stage to help improve their own healthcare system and systems around the world.

"I know that Canadians are well known through the world as friends and kind people. Be a little bit louder," Sanders said.


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