Specialist wait times up in Canada, Ontarians wait the shortest

Maricruz Casares
Diciembre 8, 2017

The Vancouver-based Fraser Institute surveyed specialist physicians to measure the time between a referral from a general practitioner and a patient's treatment.

The think tank released its latest study on wait times Thursday, saying the median wait times across the country this year was 21.2 weeks - the longest ever recorded in its two decades of tracking.

New Brunswick saw the longest average at nearly 42 weeks, while Ontario boasts the shortest of 15.

"Excessively long wait times remain a defining characteristic of Canada's health-care system", said Bacchus Barua, associate director of health policy studies at the Fraser Institute, in a statement.

The report also compares wait times in 2017 to previous years.

The institute uses provincial and territorial data and focuses on priority areas set out by the 2004 Health Accord.

Jennifer D'Silva, manager of emerging issues at the institute, said the number of priority procedures being performed continues to rise and Canada's aging population might be a factor. "In B.C. the average wait time is about 64.7 weeks".

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"Some of the procedures, we know, for hips and knees, are generally done in an older population", she said.

The report notes "survey responses in parts of Atlantic Canada are notably lower than in other provinces, which may result in reported median wait times being higher or lower than those actually experienced".

The ministry also has an online tool that allows patients to find out the wait times for specific services at individual hospitals.

Bruce Macfarlane, a New Brunswick health department spokesman, said the province makes surgical wait time data available on a website.

"Unfortunately I think a lot of politicians and policy members brush wait times off as just a benign inconvenience where as we forget that they can and do often have very real consequences". The shortest wait for a patient was for medical oncology, at about three weeks.

However, the research also cautions that surgical demand continues to increase and jurisdictions will be challenged to meet benchmarks, Jarbeau said.

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