Why Ontario Needs More Health Care Funding

At Shop Local we usually concentrate on how we can shop to make our neighbourhoods a great place to live, but sometimes It's important to look at things we should not shop for. As Canadians with a publicly funded health care system that is the envy of much of the world, private health care is definitely not something we should be shopping for.

Ontario is Canada's most populous and diverse province, with over 14 million residents and a vibrant economy. However, when it comes to health care spending, Ontario's Conservative government lags behind most other provinces and countries with universal health care systems. In this article I will explore some of the reasons and consequences of Ontario's low health care funding.

How low is Ontario's health care spending?

According to the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO), Ontario's per person spending on health care was the lowest in the country in 2020, at $4,730. This was also lower than the average of 28 other universal health care countries, which was $5,418 (after adjusting for age). Ontario's health care spending as a share of GDP was also the lowest among the provinces and territories, at 9.8%. In comparison, Canada's average health care spending as a share of GDP was 11.6%, while the average of 28 other universal health care countries was 10.7%.

What are the causes of Ontario's low health care spending?

There are several factors that contribute to Ontario's low health care spending, including:

  • The FAO reports that Ontario has consistently had among the lowest levels of per person health spending in the country since 2008.
  • The FAO also notes that Ontario receives less federal funding for health care than other provinces and territories.
  • The FAO points out that Ontario has faced frequent budget deficits over the last 40 years, resulting in a high net debt. The COVID-19 pandemic has also worsened the province's fiscal position.

What are the impacts of Ontario's low health care spending?

Ontario's low health care spending has significant implications for the quality and accessibility of health care services in the province, such as:

  • According to the Fraser Institute, a conservative thinktank, Ontario had some of the longest wait times for medically necessary treatments in Canada in 2020.
  • According to the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), Ontario has fewer hospital beds, physicians and nurses per capita than most other provinces and countries.
  • According to the FAO, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a backlog of care for many patients who need non-urgent surgeries and procedures.
  • Does Ontario's Conservative government underspend on health care compared to other provincial governments?

That's a difficult question to answer definitively, as different provincial governments may have different priorities, challenges and approaches to health care spending. However, based on some sources, it appears that Ontario's Conservative government does underspend on health care compared to other provincial governments. Some critics have accused the Ford government of "cuts by stealth" by not spending enough on health care services and programs. The Ford government has defended its spending by saying that it has provided $51 billion in supports to counter the effects of the pandemic. It has also called on the federal government to increase its share of health care funding to the provinces and territories.


Ontario's low health care spending is a serious issue that affects millions of Ontarians who rely on public health care services. It is also a complex issue that requires collaboration and innovation from all levels of government and stakeholders. By increasing health care funding and investing it wisely, Ontario can improve its health outcomes and strengthen its economy. We have to resist the Ford Government's assertion that moving to a for-profit model of healthcare, and urge them to fund and defend the publicly funded system that has served us well for many decades.

  • Posted On: May 29, 2023
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