|Provincial government hospital expenditure per person in Ontario compared to the rest of Canada based on CIHI data.|
Since 2004/5 the gap has grown from a mere $9.43 per person to $316.50 per person in 2012/13.
Nine years ago, the difference was 1%. Now, the other provinces and territories (as a whole) spend 23% more per person on hospitals than Ontario does.
That is an astonishing difference.
Or at least the size of the difference is astonishing. But that gap completely fits with the low level of nursing hours per inpatient in Ontario compared to the rest of Canada, the higher number of nursing sensitive "adverse events", the low level of hospital beds in Ontario, the low level of hospital admissions in Ontario, and the high level of hospital bed occupancy in Ontario.
Ontario has fallen so far behind almost entirely during the tenure of the Ontario Liberal government.
The Canadian Institute for Health Information data goes back to 1974/75. For the first four years, Ontario actually spent slightly more than the rest of Canada.
After that (except for several years during the early 1980s), Ontario and the rest of Canada spent about the same. At least until more recent years.
The current Ontario Liberal government has taken a radically different tack, with Ontario falling much further behind over the last nine years. In the last year reported, per person spending (in nominal dollars) actually went down in Ontario -- it went up $43 per person in the rest of Canada.
With austerity much sharper in Ontario than in other provinces, and hospital spending restraint a central focus for the Ontario Liberals, Ontario is almost certain to fall even further behind in the next few years.
The Mike Harris government initially sharply attacked hospital spending, but then quietly changed directions when problems became apparent. There is no such sign of a change in policy now. Expect the line on the chart below to go higher.
(The full figures behind these charts are below.)
Notably, the sharp differences between Ontario and the rest of Canada stand up no matter how the average is created. The un-weighted average of the spending of the other nine provinces (created by simply adding together the average per person expenditure of the other nine provinces and dividing by nine) leads to even more stark results: the un-weighted average of the other nine provinces was $1845 in 2012/13, fully $501 more than the Ontario government per person expenditure of $1344.
Ontario may be in a more difficult fiscal situation than the other provinces, but this sort of difference in spending is not likely sustainable. Something has to give -- sooner or later.