In 2015, it is estimated that Canada’s health expenditures will reach $219.1 billion, or an equivalent of $6,105 per Canadian. This amount would represent 10.9% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
About 71% of the total health expenditure this year is estimated to come from public-sector funding, 66% of which will be provincial and territorial government spending. Another 5% will come from other parts of the public sector, such as the federal government, municipal governments, and social security funds.
The remaining 29% of health spending for the year will comprise of private funding, made up of out-of-pocket spending (14%), private health insurance (12%), and other sources (3%).
Health spending in Canada, compared to other countries
According to the 2013 data on spending, Canada was in the top quarter of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries when it came to health expenditures. Only the United States ($9,086USD), Germany ($4,920USD), and Denmark ($4,847USD) spent more than Canada ($4,569USD) per person on health in 2013.
France ($4,361USD), Australia ($4,115USD), Japan ($3,713USD), Finland ($3,645USD), and the United Kingdom ($3,364USD) completed the list of the top 9 spenders out of the 29 countries in the OECD that have comparable accounting systems. The OECD average spending per person was $3,566USD.
What Canada spends its health dollars on
Three main categories, hospitals, drugs, and physicians, make up over 60% of health expenditures in Canada. In 2015, it is forecasted that hospitals will account for 29.5% of spending, drugs will reach 15.7%, and physician services will be at 15.5%. A growth of 0.9%, 0.7%, and 2.2%, respectively, is estimated for 2015 health expenditures in the three categories from the previous year of data.
The remaining 40% of health spending goes towards purchasing other health care goods and services, administering public and private insurance plans and public-sector health programs, and funding research. Long-term care institutions will make up about 10.7% of this spending, with another 10% going to allied health professionals in the dental, vision, and other fields.
Hospitals and physicians are services covered under the Canada Health Act and are therefore financed mainly through the public sector. Drugs and other health professionals and services are primarily financed from sources in the private sector.
Health spending in Canada’s provinces and territories
Canada’s territories have the highest health expenditures per capita, in large part due to the vast geographical area that needs to be covered and low population, compared with the rest of the country. In 2015, the Yukon Territory is projected to spend $10,949 per person in health expenditures. The Northwest Territories will spend $13,880 per person. Nunavut is projected to spend the most per capita in the country at $14,059.
The provinces spend less per capita. The amounts range from the lowest, $5,665 spent in Quebec, to the highest, $7,036 spent per person in Newfoundland and Labrador. A full breakdown of health expenditures for all provinces and territories can be seen in the table below.
Amount spent per capita (projected for 2015)
% of budget for provincial/territorial government health spending (projected for 2014)
% of per capita growth/decline
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island
Health spending by population group
The spending varies among population groups, particularly when it comes to age range. The last available data for provincial/territorial spending based on age groups is from 2013.
Average estimated amount spent per person
infants (less than 1 year old)
youths (1 year old to 14 years old)
adolescents/adults (15 years old to 64 years old)
seniors (65+ years old)
While seniors make up around 15% of the Canadian population, provinces and territories spend more than 45% of all public-sector health care funding on them. Costs increase as the population ages. By breaking down senior age groups into 5 year increments, a steady rise occurs.
Average estimated amount spent per person
65 - 69 years of age
70 - 74 years of age
75 - 79 years of age
80+ years of age
Factors that influence health spending
A number of factors influence the cost of health care, including inflation, population growth, the aging of the population, and other residual factors such as health sector inflation, the efficiency of the health care system, and changes in the technology available and the use of services.
Health care costs have risen by approximately 14.5% over the past 15 years, 6.6% of which is estimated to be attributed to general inflation. Demographic cost drivers (population growth and aging) have only contributed to a combined estimate of 2% growth over the last decade, although these factors vary greatly by province or territory.
Since 2013, the last year that health spending data by age and sex is available, it is forecasted that health expenditures have risen by 3.1% in 2014 and another 1.5% in 2015.
For more information on health spending in Canada, please see the Canadian Institute for Health Information’s October 2015 report on national health expenditure trends [pdf].
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