Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Health Care in Federal Systems

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How do multilevel health care systems evolve? Do they develop in a similar manner, or are their respective paths of evolution more sui generis? The aim of this article is to compare the way in which Canada and the European Union have attempted to coordinate health policy between their component multilevel jurisdictions over time. This article argues that the EU—despite its limited authority over health care—has been better able than Canada to develop a greater capacity for addressing health policy at a supranational level, notwithstanding Canada’s greater federal involvement in financing health care. While the experience of the EU supports the theoretical premises of neofunctionalism (that a certain level of integration will induce even greater integration in other areas, especially in response to crisis), the experience of Canadian health care federalism does not fit that theoretical paradigm. This suggests a limited applicability for neofunctionalist theory across multilevel systems more widely.

Keywords:  Canada; Covid‐19; European Union; federalism; health care; health policy; neofunctionalism



© Katherine Fierlbeck. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.