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Time For a Check-up? Alberta’s Health Spending

Alberta’s finance minister will table the provincial government’s 2020-21 budget on February 27th.  A focus of this budget should be specific measures to rein in health spending. 

This Graphic Intelligence examines the divergence of Alberta’s per capita health spending from the nation-wide average in 2017 (the most recent year for which actual provincial government health expenditures are available).  Using data published by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), the figure shows the contribution of each major component of health spending to Alberta’s deviation from average provincial government health spending. 

Alberta’s per capita health spending overshot the Canada-wide average by $721 in 2017 ($5,081 per capita in Alberta versus $4,360 per capita across all provinces).  This divergence is mostly driven by Alberta’s higher relative spending on hospitals and physicians.  Specifically, Alberta spent $385 per capita more on hospitals and $192 per capita more on physicians than all provincial governments spent on these components on average in 2017.

To learn more about benchmarks and recommendations for bringing Alberta’s provincial spending in line with nation-wide averages across program areas, including in health, read “Decision Time: The Alberta Shadow Budget 2019,” by Grant Bishop.