Unhealthy behaviours, socioeconomic barriers contribute to 37 per cent of Ontario’s health care costs: Report

April 6, 2016

Unhealthy behaviours and socioeconomic barriers together contribute to 37 per cent of Ontario’s health care costs, at a burden of $134 billion over 10 years. This is among the findings of a new report released today by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and The Ottawa Hospital.

However, the researchers also point to some hopeful news: improvements made in reducing Ontarians’ unhealthy behaviours have resulted in a 1.9 per cent reduction in attributable health care costs over 10 years, translating to $4.9 billion in savings overall. This reduction in health costs was primarily driven by successful smoking cessation efforts across the province.

The authors say that for every $1 increase in health costs attributed to Ontario’s aging demographic, the province has achieved savings in the range of 20 cents by reducing Ontarian’s unhealthy behaviours such as smoking, unhealthy alcohol consumption, poor diet and physical inactivity.

“Though it may seem modest, a 1.9 per cent reduction in health costs is actually quite substantial compared to other savings we’ve been able to achieve as a province to date,” says Doug Manuel, the study’s lead author who is a senior adjunct scientist at ICES, a senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital and a professor at the University of Ottawa. “Finding ways to reduce health costs through preventative public health programs will be an important counter weight to the pressures of an aging population.”

The report was launched today at The Ontario Public Health Convention in Toronto. See media release.or full report. for details. At the meeting the investigators also announced a new online tool for predicting individual health care costs, now available to the public at

About The Ottawa Hospital

The Ottawa Hospital is one of Canada’s largest learning and research hospitals with over 1,100 beds, approximately 12,000 staff and an annual budget of over $1.2 billion. Our focus on research and learning helps us develop new and innovative ways to treat patients and improve care. As a multi-campus hospital, affiliated with the University of Ottawa, we deliver specialized care to the Eastern Ontario region, but our techniques and research discoveries are adopted around the world. We engage the community at all levels to support our vision for better patient care.

About the University of Ottawa

The University of Ottawa is home to over 50,000 students, faculty and staff, who live, work and study in both French and English. Our campus is a crossroads of cultures and ideas, where bold minds come together to inspire game-changing ideas. We are one of Canada’s top 10 research universities—our professors and researchers explore new approaches to today’s challenges. One of a handful of Canadian universities ranked among the top 200 in the world, we attract exceptional thinkers and welcome diverse perspectives from across the globe.

For further information, please contact

Kathleen Sandusky
Media Advisor, ICES
Office: 416-480-4780
Cell: 416-434-7763

Amelia Buchanan
Senior Communication Specialist
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Office: 613-798-5555 x 73687
Cell: 613-297-8315