OTTAWA (CP) - Health spending continues to outpace inflation and population growth but the rate of growth is slowing, says the Canadian Institute for Health Information.
Canadians will spend $148 billion on health care this year or $4,548 per person, says an institute report Tuesday.
Despite controversy over two-tier health care, the ratio of public-to-private spending has remained stable over the past decade, at 70 per cent public and 30 per cent private.
Per capita expenditures are expected to grow by 2.8 per cent this year, after inflation and population growth are taken into account.
"There certainly seems to be continued investment, but we're also seeing the rate of growth appearing to slow down," Glenda Yeates, president and CEO of the federal-provincial statistics agency, said in an interview
The federal government has been reinvesting in health since budget cuts in the 1990s precipitated a crisis throughout the health system.
Drugs continue to grow as a proportion of health spending, taking a share that is second only to hospitals. Drug costs are also larger than physicians' pay, but the rate of growth appears to be slowing - a six per cent increase expected this year compared with 8.9 per cent last year.
The report breaks down health spending by age and finds that the biggest expenditures, by far, come at the beginning and the end of life. Per capita spending was $7,565 for infants under one year of age and $8,969 for seniors.
Canada's per-person health spending is only half that of the United States, but its spending as a proportion of Gross National Product is fifth among OECD countries.
The study doesn't trace federal dollars but the overall rise in spending suggests provinces are passing through the money they received from Ottawa under the 2004 first ministers health accord, says Yeates.
"The total public sector (spending) has basically gone up $6 billion from 2005 to 2006, so it's certainly consistent with what you would expect."
The report finds that government spending varies widely across the country.
In 2004, the most recent year for which a breakdown is available, per capita spending ranged from a low of $2,987 in Newfoundland and Labrador to a high of $3,072 in Alberta.
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