Fresh Takes

Health care issues cannot be solved by funding alone

On average, health spending corresponds to 37% of provinces’ 2022 budgets, and is increasing rapidly according to a Deloitte report commissioned by the Canadian Medical Association and released today. Deloitte analyzed the 2022 provincial, territorial, and federal budgets, and found that health care spending is expected to rise faster than overall spending. In fact, health spending is growing nearly five times faster than overall budgets.

The report also echoed the issues within the system which have become topics of dinner table conversation across the country—namely that in terms of access, capacity, and timeliness of care, Canada lags other OECD countries, despite substantial health spending. The report concludes that for longer-term health care sustainability in Canada, reform and innovation are necessary.

While some provinces are implementing measures to improve access to care and pursuing innovation, much more can and should be done. For example, permitting mixed practice or expanding the participation of private facilities in the provision of care will make more efficient use of existing health care resources. So will allowing medical professionals like nurses and pharmacists to exercise their full scope of practice. So, too, will offloading hospital management, allowing private entrepreneurs to run hospitals financed by the public purse, a model that has proven to be more efficient.

There are many more examples of reforms that can be adopted. Importantly, as the report notes, funding alone is not enough. These issues are structural, and if our decision-makers don’t start to think bigger and bolder when it comes to reform, we will still be having these same conversations, and struggling with these same issues, years down the road.

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