A Snapshot of Health Care Spending - In Canada and Around the World

April 1, 2016
Kristine St-Laurent

Health care in Canada consumed more than 40% of aggregate provincial government revenues in 2015, with the public and private spending necessary to provide the full suite of health services amounting to 10.7% of national GDP.


  • Health care spending continues to outpace economic growth in most developed countries. Mounting pressure is being put on health systems from aging populations, the rising incidence of chronic disease and greater use of expensive technologies.
  • Governments are straining to meet demands for health care at a time when economic and labour force growth rates are slowing; some relatively affluent countries may soon reach a crossroads with health care.
  • Under the prevailing Canadian model for organizing and paying for health care, there is little incentive to introduce better systems, new products or innovative services. It is difficult to see how the system can be sustained indefinitely in its present form.
  • A re-examination of the status quo could help policy-makers and health administrators introduce greater efficiencies into the system, leverage Canada’s global advantages in some areas of health-related innovation, and – most significantly – improve services and quality of care for Canadians.
  • On the upside, BC has managed to make some progress by introducing efficiencies to improve health outcomes and balance costs. BC does better than the other provinces on a number of indicators of health system performance.

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