Rebecca, yes, I think you're correct that eye exams by optometrists are now covered only every two
(It used to be annually.)
Waiting lists? It varies depending what you need. Some one can correct me on details, but I believe it was recently stated by the doctors' association that some waiting times for tests were too long, based on when ---- if it turns out treatment is necessary ---- the treatment should have been started. Some tests take so long they are past that date when the results are known. That, it seems to me, should be a huge alarm bell ringing. I'm surprised there wasn't more outcry.
Also, another factor is that the length of waiting time may present other risks.
For example, a friend of my is about to have a total knee replacement. The waiting time for her hasn't been that bad, but certainly during that time the risk of her slipping, breaking a hip, or having some other complication, is higher. That's another reason for not having lengthy waiting times.
Waiting lists for various mental health services are bad.
Of course, a big problem is that though people know
of waiting list problems, no statistics are kept, and the length of waiting lists is never considered as part evaluating the poor performance of any hospital. Last year I had a discussion with one of the accreditors who evaluates hospitals --- all hospitals must go through an accreditation process. On a personal level, he acknowledged waiting lists are a big problem. I'm sure others also agree. But as far as I know, it is still being ignored.
Now, admittedly, some waiting list problems are very hard to manage. It is difficult to manage which specialties student doctors find attractive and decide to go into. However, there is a definite problem in the way we allocate payment for doctors. In Ontario it is negotiated between the government and the doctors, so that in large part it depends upon which types of doctors have the most numbers and clout. If there are a lot of cardiologists, you can be fairly sure most cardiac medical procedures will be covered. On the other hand, a medical procedure that few doctors do, might not be covered. Or, as another example, as terrible as a wart on her face might be to a teen's social and psychological health, no doctors have any strong economic interest in such surgery, so it isn't covered.
And in my case, surgery that I will eventually need is not covered --- I'm told no rationale was ever given when Ontario de-listed it, though it is suspected it was a matter of prejudice. So I have to hope my liver stays healthy for a long time and that I don't have a stroke. Ironically, in one more year, the cumulative cost of my medication will have exceeded what the cost of surgery would have been!!!
I don't think I can give a better answer to that above!!!
But, anyway, the federal government collects taxes in various ways. There is income tax ---- complicated, but far less complicated than in the U.S. --- and a Goods & Services sales tax of 7%. The federal government also collects Employment Insurance Premiums --- far more than they pay out --- and Pension Plan Contributions. The federal government can also collect various license fees in areas of its jurisdiction, collects customs duties, excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco and gasoline, passport fees, and so on.
OK, legally only the federal government can collect income tax. But all the provinces have some sort of agreement with the federal government to collect income tax for them too. Most provinces also have a sales tax, and collect various license fees in their areas of jurisdiction, such as drivers' licenses, motor vehicle licenses, birth certificate fees, etc. etc. They also have specific taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and gasoline.
Cities and other municipal governments have no legal existence or validity except as "creatures of the provinces". Thus they have no tax powers whatsoever other than what the particular province allows them. They might have some sources of revenue such as parking license permits, weddling license fees, bus fares, water bills, etc. Often cities and muncipal governments have been given property tax powers, where the tax is based on an assessment of the probably market value of the building.
Often school boards have depended upon property tax powers too. So property tax would be a combination of the municipal rate and the school board rate. School boards actually do have some constitutional backing but the courts have not made much of that. In Ontario, the school boards' can no longer set property tax rates and the property taxes have been taken away and pooled by the province.
More than you really wanted to know? Right?
Although our tax burden is considered higher than in the U.S., I'm told that when you factor in what U.S. corporate employers have to contribute to employee health plans, that the comparison is favourable for Canada.