In September 2007, the Fraser Institute (“an independent non-partisan research and educational organization based in Canada“) published the results of its updated study on the prevalence, costs, and patterns of ‘Complementary and Alternative Medicine’ (CAM) use in Canada in 2006.  This report is based on an Ipsos Reid Canadian national survey commissioned by The Fraser Institute. Authored by Nadeem Esmail, it is entitled ‘Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Canada: Trends in Use and Public Attitudes, 1997-2006’.

Together with the Fraser Institute’s 2009 detailed study, “Unnatural Regulation: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy in Canada”, the statistics indicate that:

  • During the latter half of 2005 and first half of 2006, about the same time medical/pharmaceutical lobby groups started to position themselves to ‘regulate’ alternative and holistic practitioners, Canadians spent more than $5.6 billion out-of- pocket on visits to providers of alternative medicine, compared to nearly $2.8 billion in 1997.  This represents a doubling of preference for alternative and complementary treatments in less than 10 years.  In fact, more recent studies suggest that out-of-pocket expenditures on alternatives are doubling every decade.
  • An extrapolation for the Ontario population based on:

(a)  the high concentration of natural health services providers in Ontario (46% of the total in Canada by 2012) and,
(b) 13% of the Ontario population using alternatives by 2005,

indicates it is fair to presume that some $4-5 Billion out-of-pocket was spent on alternative treatments in 2005-6, in Ontario alone.

Almost ½ of the natural health services and natural health providers were located in Ontario by 2005-2006, suggesting that at least $3-4 Billion or more of that amount of spending was and is found in Ontario.  At the rate the expenditures were doubling, a decade later… 2014-15, it can be expected that Ontario residents will spend close to $8-10 Billion on alternatives.

  • In 2006, alternative therapy providers were the major expenditure component, making up 72 % of average per capita expenditure. Books, classes, equipment, etc., was the next largest category at 13 %, with herbs and vitamins only slightly smaller at 12%. Expenditures on special diets were the smallest expenditure per capita at just 3 %.
  • The average amount paid in Canada out-of-pocket per user to an alternative health care provider in 2005 was $173, which was a sizable increase from the $93 paid out of pocket on average in 1997.

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