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Ontario hospital capacity falls short of other provinces

Rest of Canada has 38% more hospital capacity than OntarioOntario has far fewer hospital beds than other provinces.  Compared to other countries, we are even further behind. 

For the club of the 33 richest nations (the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development), the average is 4.8 hospital beds per 1000 population in 2012 (or the reported year closest to that).  The OECD reports  just 2.74 beds per 1000 population for Canada for 2011.(The OECD data can be downloaded here) 

Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) data suggests a very similar average for Canada -- 2.79 beds per 1000 population in 2012. Ontario beds however only come out at 2.34 hospital beds per 1000 population.  For the rest of Canada, it is 3.24 beds, closer to the norm. (The CIHI data can be downloaded here)

In other words,  the rest of Canada has 38% more hospital beds per 1,000 persons than Ontario.   The average of the 33 OECD nations is more than two times higher than Ontario. 

In 1990, according to OECD data, the OECD countries had on average 10% more beds per capita than Canada. By 2000, that had increased to 47% more beds.  By 2005, 71% more.  And by 2012, the OECD countries had 78% more hospital beds per capita than Canada.

OECD countries have 78% more hospital beds than Canada. Sharply up from 1990.

But compared to Ontario, OECD countries had 108% more beds per capita in 2012. 

Despite this, bed cuts are happening all over Ontario as austerity forces cuts in hospital capacity. 

The low number of beds in Canada goes hand in hand with the low number of hospital discharges in Canada -- we have about half the number of the OECD average.  

Unlike other countries, Canada provides universal, comprehensive public provision only to hospital and physician services.  So it is not so surprising that in Canada government especially focus on reducing hospital beds and services.

Comparing the mix of beds: The CIHI data indicates that the mix of beds in Ontario resembles the mix found in the other provinces. Notably, however, the share of acute and “LTC” beds is somewhat lower in Ontario than the rest of Canada.  

As a result, acute beds (medical and surgical beds), fall even further behind: the rest of Canada has 49% more acute beds compared to Ontario.

Rest of Canada has 49% more acute beds than OntarioOntario has far fewer acute care beds than rest of Canada

Some limits on this data: the CIHI figures are current as of April 2012 and the data does not include Quebec and Nunavut.   Note also: the CIHI data refers to only hospital beds used for hospital purposes – it does not refer to residential long-term care (LTC) beds that are sometimes found in hospitals  (presumably CIHI's definition of “LTC” is mostly comprised of complex continuing care beds).  


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