Since the 1970s, there has been a significant decline in the share of total health care spending accounted for by public (or government) spending in Canada.
In 1976, public spending accounted for 77.0% of health spending. The decline stopped in 1997, when the public share began to bounce around the 70% to 71% range.
But in 2011, we saw the biggest one-year decline since 1992-93. The public share fell 0.7% to 70.4% according to new data from the OECD.
This coincides with government attempts to impose austerity, so the potential for the percentage to decline further in the years ahead is significant. In the aftermath of the last recession in the 1990s, that is what happened. (Indeed, the public share fell from 74.6% in 1991 to 70.1% in 1997.)
As the public share declines, health care inequality increases, as only those with the cash -- or the insurance - - get the care.
Ontario has had the lowest share of public spending in the past, and the particularly sharp form of austerity currently being imposed by the Ontario Liberal government raises a distinct question about where that is heading now.