Abstract

Denmark is a small Northern European country with an extensive welfare state and a strong commitment to maintaining a universal healthcare system. Like the other countries in the Nordic region, Denmark has a long tradition of democratically governed local and regional governments with extensive responsibilities in organizing welfare state services. The Danish healthcare system has demonstrated an ability to increase productivity, while at the same time maintaining a high level of patient satisfaction. Ongoing reforms have contributed to these results, as well as a firm commitment to innovation and coordination. Regions and municipalities in Denmark are governed by directly elected democratic councils. The Danish case is thus an example of democratic decentralization, but within a framework of national coordination and fiscal control. In spite of the difference in size and historical traditions there are also many similarities between Canada and Denmark, particularly in terms of health and social policy goals and aspirations, and in terms of the commitment to a comprehensive, universal healthcare system. These similarities provide interesting opportunities for comparison.