National Health Expenditure Database turns 40

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Trends in health care spending with 40 years of data

Health care is one of the most high-profile and important line items in any government’s budget. That’s why the annual National Health Expenditure Trends data update is one of CIHI’s signature products.

This year marked the 40th anniversary of the data holding — a rare opportunity to examine health spending trends with 4 decades of valuable information to draw on.

Having reached this milestone, CIHI and the Economic Club of Canada hosted a birthday party of sorts featuring a panel discussion entitled “Canada’s health spending growth: do we have a Band-Aid solution or a cure?”

National Health Expenditure discussion panel

About 150 people attended the celebration at Ottawa’s Fairmont Château Laurier. The Globe and Mail’s health columnist, André Picard, moderated the lively conversation among a panel of experts: the Canadian Medical Association’s president, Dr. Cindy Forbes; the University of Toronto’s Dr. David Naylor; Queen’s University’s Don Drummond; and CIHI’s vice president of Programs, Brent Diverty.

Some notable quotes from the panellists:

  • “There are more spending discrepancies within Canada’s provinces than between Canada and other countries.” — Don Drummond
  • “We don’t need a Band-Aid or a miracle cure, we need a seniors strategy.” — Dr. Cindy Forbes
  • “We need to unbundle why drug spending discrepancies occur between provinces.” — Dr. David Naylor

Canadian health spending has evolved since 1975, and using the data can help us predict where it might go in the future.

The report National Health Expenditure Trends, 1975 to 2015 provides an overview of how much is spent on health care annually, in what areas money is spent and on whom, and where the money comes from. It features comparative expenditure data at the provincial/territorial and international levels, as well as Canadian health spending trends from 1975 to the present.

NHEX team past and present
The NHEX team past and present

Front row, left to right: Greg Zinck, Lyndon Wiebe, Brad Henderson, Geoff Ballinger
Back row, left to right: Hui Ju Hung Huang, Vicky Wang, Chris Kuchciak, Jean He