Many factors contribute to this: an aging population, recruitment and retention woes, and a model that needs re-adjustment. Technological advancements with corresponding cost increases also factor in.
Therefore, when citizens see surplus budgets, or at a minimum, greatly reduced deficits, a common refrain is to spend the extra dollars on healthcare. That is understandable. There have been too many accounts of individuals in harrowing circumstances in overcrowded emergency rooms, waiting to be off-loaded from an ambulance, or an ambulance arriving woefully late, if at all. The immediate response is to call for more spending.
But provincial governments are continually spending more on health, year over year. Without fail. But money alone will not fix what ails the system.
Necessity is causing new approaches to take hold, which is encouraging. From increased utilization of nurse practitioners, physician assistants, virtual appointments where needed, non-urgent care venues to alleviate ER pressures, there is cause for optimism. Ensuring the labour supply does remain a Herculean challenge.
At the same time, as provinces try to manage expectations on the amount of new spending available, there can be public confusion about why Premiers and Health Ministers are calling for a greater federal contribution, if money alone is not the solution.
In a report entitled, National Healthcare Expenditure Trends, the Canadian Institute for Health Information noted, “Total health expenditure in Canada is expected to rise by 0.8% in 2022, following high growth of 13.2% in 2020 and 7.6% in 2021. Prior to the pandemic, from 2015 to 2019, growth in health spending averaged 4% per year.” (National health expenditure trends | CIHI)