In its new report commissioned by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), the Conference Board of Canada projects major challenges ahead for provincial and territorial budgets, including funding for health care in Canada. Without new measures, such as more federal dollars, provinces and territories will be hard pressed to maintain current levels of care, let alone meet the growing demands associated with an aging population.
“While political leaders are making health care commitments on the campaign trail, the fiscal realities will make it impossible to keep pace with what the future holds. The message is clear: the federal government will need to step up to ensure provinces and territories can maintain our public health care system.” - CMA President Dr. Sandy Buchman
The Fiscal Health of Canadian Governments details the stark fiscal realities confronting the provinces and territories.
The report shows health care costs are predicted to rise considerably over the next two decades as the health system struggles to meet the needs of baby boomers—the country’s largest population segment.
At the same time, tax revenue growth will slow as boomers exit the workforce.
In addition, the increased demand for health care will consume increasingly larger shares of government revenues. As the report outlines, in 2018-19, health care expenditures accounted for just under 40% of revenues. But by 2040, this share will grow to between 47.8% and 54%.
While the Conference Board finds the federal government is on track to achieve a balanced budget by 2030-31, it warns that “the provinces and territories face a bleaker fiscal outlook…[w]ithout a new approach, the provinces and territories will continue to walk a tightrope between longer health care wait times and larger deficits.”
The CMA has long recognized the significant fiscal pressures the provinces and territories grapple with in meeting the health care needs of their populations.
This federal election, the CMA is calling for greater federal investment and leadership, and urging all federal parties to commit to:
- a demographic-based top-up to the Canada Health Transfer, to provide extra funding to provinces and territories based on population aging;
- a Seniors Care Benefit, to help cover additional out-of-pocket expenses for seniors and their caregivers who currently spend over $9 billion to care for their loved ones;
- a $1.2 billion Primary Health Care Transition Fund to support the medical home model to improve access to primary care; and,
- support for a pan-Canadian medical licensure, to expand virtual care and deliver health care to people in remote areas.