Health care is the largest sector of the Canadian economy, representing more than 11 percent of the country’s GDP and approximately 38 percent of an average provincial budget. Moreover, 70 percent of Canada’s $242 billion health-care expenditure in 2017 was funded through its public, single-payer health-care system. Although the tangible effects of Canada’s public health-care system are felt by millions of Canadians daily, some benefits of the single-payer model have yet to be realized.
In this video, Sachin Aggarwal explains that an important by-product of Canada’s health-care system is the amount of health data that is collected by the provincial purveyors of public health care. According to Aggarwal, Canada has a structural advantage in the data-driven economy, which would allow the country to leverage health data to become a global leader in the delivery of personalized medicine, the advancement of artificial intelligence and the acceleration of medical research.
Should Canada decide to leverage the health data of its citizens, an important national conversation must happen first, resulting in what Aggarwal calls “a new social contract.” In this contract, Canadian data protection and data use details must be made explicit, Canadians must know that they can participate in their own data’s use and, lastly, Canadians must be allowed to withdraw their data.