Media Release: Ontario ranks lowest in program spending per person among provinces

[La version française suit le texte anglais.]   


TORONTO, April 6, 2022 – Today, the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) released a report comparing Ontario’s fiscal results with the other provinces after the first year of the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

On a per person basis, Ontario’s total program spending in 2020 was the lowest in the country, with the least amount in health spending. Since 2008 when the data is first available, Ontario has consistently had among the lowest levels of per person health spending in the country.  

In 2020, Ontario collected the second lowest total revenue per person among the provinces. At the same time, its tax revenues per person were the second highest, reflecting the province’s stronger economic base. Measured against economic activity, Ontario’s tax revenue (13.7 per cent of GDP) was slightly above the average of the other provinces (13.2 per cent). 

Ontario’s net debt was the highest among the provinces in 2020, both in per person terms ($21,924) and as a share of GDP (37.3 per cent) – the result of frequent budget deficits over the last forty years. With a comparatively lower effective interest rate, Ontario’s per person interest expense was below the average of the other provinces.  

For most provinces, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic caused budget balances to deteriorate as large spending increases outpaced weak revenue growth. As a result, net debt levels increased in 2020. However, despite the impact of the pandemic on provincial finances, Ontario’s interprovincial per person rankings did not change significantly from 2019 to 2020. 

Find our full report on our website, here

Quick Facts: 

  • Health spending per person in Ontario was $4,800 in 2020, the lowest in Canada and $536 (10.0 per cent) below the average of the other provinces.

  • Despite Ontario’s higher debt burden, its interest expense per person was $834, below the average of the other provinces, due to its comparatively lower effective interest rate. 

  • Ontario’s budget deficit amounted to $1,597 per person in 2020, the fifth highest in the country and slightly below the rest of Canada average of $1,736.

  • Since 2008, Ontario’s per person budget deficit has only been smaller than the average in the rest of Canada in four years -- 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2020. 

About the FAO: 

Established by the Financial Accountability Officer Act, 2013, the Financial Accountability Office (FAO) provides independent analysis on the state of the Province’s finances, trends in the provincial economy and related matters important to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Visit our website or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for more information on our reports.  


For further information, please contact:
Jessica Martin l 647 527 2385 l l