Ep. 40 Practicing Medicine in Canada: Promises and Realities

Shawn Whatley, MD

What’s the professional life of Canadian doctors really like?  Does the safety and stability of a single-payer system free them from business concerns and allow them to concentrate on patient care?  Or do the realities of central planning produce unexpected uncertainty and stress for patients and doctors alike?

To help us gain a realistic understanding of the Canadian system, we have as our guest Dr. Shawn Whatley who currently runs a primary care practice in Ontario, Canada.  Prior to this position, Dr. Whatley worked for many years as an emergency physician and he is the author of No More Lethal Waits: 10 Steps to Transform Canada’s Emergency Departments.

Dr. Whatley is past-president of the Ontario Medical Association and he is a senior fellow at the MacDonald-Laurier Institute for Public Policy in Toronto.  He also publishes a highly trafficked blog where he shares insightful and humorous comments about healthcare in Ontario.  In other words, he is the perfect guest to inform us about the realities of healthcare in Canada.


Shawn Whatley, MD.  Blog and Twitter


Shawn Whatley.  No More Lethal Waits: 10 Steps to Transform Canada’s Emergency Departments (Amazon)


Milton Friedman at the Mayo Clinic speaks on Free Markets in Healthcare (YouTube, 9 minutes)


Watch the episode on our YouTube channel.


  1. Anthony M. Perry, on 11/06/2018 at 2:20 AM

    Michel was right. One of the best. Very informative.

  2. Anthony M. Perry on 11/10/2018 at 8:39 PM

    I also just finished reading an editorial in the latest JAMA about changes in cancer treatment which show great promise but will entail considerable cost for the afflicted individual, at least in the present stage of development. Considering this it seems to me more important than ever that we convince the public to reject the nonsense of “insurance” for relatively low cost predictable items.

    It is such a travesty that by rejecting the free market and inviting in the bureaucracy we are wasting so much of our treasure and time providing things that are affordable, and thereby raising prices and stifling innovation in communication and delivery of services. And in doing this we are limiting and restricting resources that should be going to those who need help with real problems.

    I remember talking to a friend of mine who was living in Canada for a few years. She was happy to note that massage therapy for her minor musculoskeletal problems was provided. Meanwhile patients were limping around on walkers waiting a year for hip replacement.

  3. Anthony M. Perry, on 11/12/2018 at 4:09 AM

    I have hearing aids that were 3 years old and had come off warranty. Accordingly my audiologist noted that there had been considerable technological advances and recommended replacements which cost $5000. There was a $300 non-refundable deposit and a 30 day mandatory trial period. Although they gave some improvement generally I used the 30 days to compare them in various situations in which I found hearing aids useful. I decided I could put the $5000 to better use for other things and returned them. If the price comes down I might reconsider. Nevertheless had they been covered by insurance I haven’t the slightest doubt that I would be wearing them today. I think the Democrat Medicare for All plan proposes to cover hearing aids.

    I did on the other hand have a mitral valve repair 6 years ago by a very high quality surgeon in NYC. That I considered a necessity and worth paying for.

    I get the point of your blog post. The only means that 3rd parties can use to determine “necessity” are rules and regulations, which very often miss their mark. I saw the results all the time in my practice. There is a great deal of difference between things that are “indicated” and common sense necessity.

    Don’t you think HSA’s are a partial solution. And of course there’s philanthropy which might have a better chance of determining common sense need. What about the medical expense sharing plans that I hear advertised? I know nothing about them. Another topic for a program.

  4. Lysander Spooner on 03/10/2019 at 9:29 AM

    People seem to forget the political law: “where there’s a prohibition, there’s a bootlegger”. You can’t ban stuff then expect it to stop. It just goes underground or abroad.

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