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October 21, 2021

Canada’s Sky-High Costs for End-of-Life Care Need Solutions

  • Despite spending more on medical care delivered at the end-of-life than other high-income countries, Canada performs poorly on most measures of healthcare quality – meaning Canadians are not getting value for their money, according to a new report released by the C.D. Howe Institute.
  • Authors Kieran Quinn, Sarina Isenberg and James Downar review the gaps in Canada’s healthcare system that lead to costly and low-quality end-of-life practices. They estimate that with a few simple, feasible structural changes in end-of-life care, Canada’s healthcare system could save hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
  • Canada has among the highest rates of hospitalization in the last three months of life (61 percent), despite the vast majority of Canadians (87 percent) preferring to receive end of life care at home. As well, most Canadians die in hospital (61 percent), far more than in England (47 to 51 percent), the Netherlands (28 to 31 percent) and the United States (20 percent), according to the authors.
Kieran Quinn

Dr. Kieran Quinn is with the Divisions of General Internal Medicine and Palliative Care, Department of Medicine, Sinai Health System.

Sarina Isenberg

Dr. Sarina Isenberg is Bruyère Chair in Mixed Methods Palliative Care Research at the Bruyère Research Institute.

James Downar

Dr. James Downar is with the Division of Palliative Care, Department of Medicine, University of Ottawa.