Canada’s increased health care spending not helping

The federal government has provided provinces with an extra $36 billion in transfers for health care since 1997, yet Canada's health care system is in worse shape now than it was 10 years ago, according to a new report by the Fraser Institute.


  • Between 1980 and 1997, federal transfers for health care spending were relatively stable, and from 1988-89 to 1997-98, the average annual growth rate in federal health care transfers was 1.4 per cent.

  • But starting in 1997-98, spending ballooned to 12.9 per cent, when just 3.1 per cent would have been required to keep pace with population growth and inflation.

  • In total, the federal government has provided the provinces with $234.5 billion in cash transfers for health since 1980-81, but more than half that amount – $115.7 billion – has come since 1997-98.

    Meanwhile, says the Institute:

  • In 2006, the average Canadian could expect to wait 17.8 weeks from the time of a referral from a General Practitioner to the time a specialist delivered the treatment required, compared to 11.9 weeks in 1997; a nearly 50 per cent increase.

  • Total wait time for treatment was the result of a 72.5 per cent increase in the wait time to see a specialist after referral by a general practitioner, and a 32.4 per cent increase in the wait time to receive treatment after an appointment with a specialist.

  • The wait time for a CT scan increased from 4.1 weeks to 4.3 weeks between 1997 and 2006 while the wait time for an MRI scan went from 9.6 weeks in 1997 to 10.3 weeks in 2006 – indicating that additional funding has not improved technology.

    Source: Canadian health care system shows little improvement despite extra $36 billion in federal transfers since 1997, CNW Group, March 13, 2007.

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    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 20 March 2007
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