An Overview of the Canadian Health Care System

Iwona A. Bielska,

Elizabeth M. Hampel,

Ana P. Johnson


The Canadian health care system is a publicly financed system administered by ten provincial and three territorial governments. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the universal health care system in Canada, including its history, the health status of Canadians, health care funding and spending, and health research and data collection. Health care spending in Canada amounts to 11.6% of the country’s gross domestic product and is estimated to have been $200.5 billion Canadian dollars in 2011. Hospitals account for the largest source of health care spending (29%), followed by drugs (16%) and physician spending (14%). Of the total health care spending, 70% is paid for by the public system. Due to the Canadian population being covered by the universal health care system, health data are being collected and can be used to monitor the health care system and inform evidence-based medicine.

Słowa kluczowe: ekonomika zdrowia, finansowanie, Kanada, świadczenie usług zdrowotnych, usługi zdrowotne

Health Canada, Health Care System., 2012. September 20, 2012 (access 20. 09. 2012).

Health Canada, Canada’s Health Care System. Dates articles were accessed:, 1999. Sept. 20. 2012

Statistics Canada, Table 051-0001 – Estimates of population, by age group and sex for July 1, Canada, provinces and territories, annual (persons unless otherwise noted), CANSIM (database), 2012.

Health Canada, Canada Health Act Annual Report 2010–2011., 2012 (access 20. 09. 2012).

Esmail N., Walker M., How Good is Canadian Health Care? 2008 Report: An International Comparison of Health Care Systems. Studies in Health Care Policy, Fraser Institute, 2008.

Sutcliffe S.B., A review of Canadian health care and cancer care systems. „Cancer” 2011; 117(Suppl. 10): 2241–2244.

Esmail N., Palacios M., The price of public health care insurance in 2011. „Fraser Forum” 2012; 11/12: 5–7.

Canadian Institute for Health Information, National Health Expenditure Trends, 1975 to 2011., 2011 (access 24. 09. 2012).

Parliament of Canada, The Health of Canadians – The Federal Role Final Report - Volume Six: Recommendations for Reform., 2002. (access 24.09. 2012).

Service Ontario, Private Hospitals Act. htm, 2010 (access 24. 09. 2012).

 Madore O., Tiedemann M., Private Health Care Funding and Delivery under the Canada Health Act. Library of Parliament, Parliament of Canada., 2005 (access 24. 09. 2012).

Association of Canadian Academic Healthcare Organizations, Who We Are., 2012 (access 20..09. 2012).

Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health, Activity-based Funding Models in Canadian Hospitals., 2012 (access 17.09. 2012).

Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, Are Hospital Funding Mechanisms in Canada Designed to Provide Efficient Care? „Evidence-Informed Options for Hospital Funding”, 2010.

Canadian Institute for Health Information, Hospital Cost Drivers Technical Report.,2012 (access 19. 09. 2012).

Canadian Institute for Health Information, The Cost of Acute Care Hospital Stays by Medical Condition in Canada, 2004–2005., 2008 (access 19. 09. 2012).

Paris V., Docteur E., Pharmaceutical pricing and reimbursement policies in Canada. OECD Health Working Papers, 2007.

Khoury H., O’Neil B., Wagner M., Welner S. Canada – Pharmaceuticals. International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research., 2011 (access 19. 09. 2012).

Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health, About CADTH. Dates articles were accessed:, 2012. Sept. 24, 2012

Office of the Auditor General of Canada, Chapter 4 – Management of Federal Drug Benefit Programs. Report of the Auditor General of Canada. Dates articles were accessed:, 2004. Sept. 20, 2012

Pomey M.-P., Morgan S., Church J., Forest P.-G., Lavis J.N., McIntosh T., Smith N., Petrela J., Martin E., Dobson S., Do Provincial Drug Benefit Initiatives Create an Effective Policy Lab? The Evidence from Canada. „Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law” 2010; 35(5): 706–742.

Fraser Group/Tristat Resources, Drug Expense Coverage in the Canadian Population: Protection from Severe Drug Expenses., 2002 (access 24. 09. 2012).

Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, Information About Canadian Faculties of Medicine 2011/12. Office of Research and Information Services, AFMC., 2011 (access 24. 09. 2012).

Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, Admission Requirements of Canadian Faculties of Medicine: Admission in 2013., 2012 (access 24. 09. 2012).

Health Canada, Guidelines for the Preparation of an Action Plan for Medical Licensure in Canada., 2012 (access 19. 09. 2012).

Professional Association of Internes & Residents of Ontario, Continuing Medical Education (CME)/Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Credits and System., 2011 (access 24. 09. 2012).

Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), Physician supply still growing faster than Canadian population., 2012 (access 19. 09. 2012).

National Physician Survey (NPS), 2010 National Physician Survey Results., 2010 (access 19. 09. 2012).

Esmail N., Canada’s physician supply. „Fraser Forum” 2011; 3/4: 12–16.

Statistics Canada, Table 105–0501 – Health indicator profile, annual estimates, by age group and sex, Canada, provinces, territories, health regions (2011 baundaries) and peer groups, occasional, CANSIM (database), 2012.

Statistics Canada, Survey of Household Spending, 2010. Dates articles were accessed:, 2012 (access 20. 09. 2012)

Wyer P.C., Keitz S., Hatala R., Hayward R., Barratt A., Montori V., Wooltorton E., Guyatt G., Tips for learning and teaching evidence-based medicine: introduction to the series.„CMAJ” 2004; 171(4): 347–348.

Sackett D.L., Rosenberg W.M.C., Gray J.A.M., Haynes R.B., Richardson W.S., Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn’t. „BMJ” 1996; 312: 71–72.

Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), Milestones in Canadian Health Research., 2012 (access 19. 09. 2012).

CIHR, About us., 2012 (access 19. 09. 2012).

CIHR, Funding Overview., 2012 (access 19. 09. 2012).

Statistics Canada, About us., 2012 (access 20,09, 2012).

Statistics Canada, The Research Data Centres Program., 2012 (access 20. 09. 2012).

CIHI, Vision and Mandate., 2012 (access 24. 09. 2012).

Cavoukian A., Frequently Asked Questions: Personal Health Information Protection Act. Information and Privacy Commissioner Ontario., 2005 (access 24. 09. 2012).

Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Examples of ICES data use., 2011 (access 25. 09. 2012).

Brock University Map Library Controlled Access, Canada map [computer file]. Brock University Map Library: St. Catharines, Ontario., no date (access 25. 09. 2012).