Public Expenditures for Mental Health Services in Canadian Provinces – 2017-12-11

The purpose of this study is to measure provincial spending for mental health services in fiscal year (FY) 2013 and to compare these cost estimates to those of FY 2003.

This study estimated the costs of publicly funded provincial mental health services in FY 2013 and compared them to the estimates for FY 2003 from a previously published report. Our data were obtained from publicly accessible databases. The cross-year cost comparisons for provincial mental health services were restricted to general and psychiatric hospital inpatients, clinical payments to physicians and psychologists, and prescribed psychotropic medications. Total public expenditures were inflation adjusted and expressed per capita and as a percentage of the total provincial health spending.

Total public spending for mental health and addiction programs/services was estimated to be $6.75 billion for FY 2013. The largest component of the expenditures was hospital inpatient services ($4.02 billion, 59.6%), followed by clinical payments to physicians or psychologists ($1.69 billion, 25%), and then publicly funded prescribed psychotherapeutic medications ($1.04 billion, 15.4%). Nationally, the portion of total public spending on health that was spent on mental health decreased from FY 2003 to FY 2013 from 5.4% to 4.9%.

Our results reveal that mental health spending, as a proportion of public health care expenditures, decreased in the decade from FY 2003 to FY 2013. Due to large differences in how the provinces report community mental health services, we still lack a comprehensive picture of the mental health system.

Jian Wang, MA, Philip Jacobs, PhD, Arto Ohinmaa, PhD, Anne Dezetter, PhD, Alain Lesage, MD, MPhil
The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, December 11, 2017