Specialist wait times up in Canada, Ontarians wait the shortest

Health-care wait times longest in two decades of tracking: report

Fraser Institute Media Advisory: How long do Canadians wait for health care? Annual report coming Thursday, Dec. 7

The latest snapshot of medical wait times from the right-leaning think tank reports British Columbians are waiting, on average, six-and-a-half months from the moment their doctor writes a referral to the time they are getting treatment.

"We're definitely seeing incredibly long wait times for things like orthopedic surgery", he said.

It found wait times in B.C. had climbed for the fifth year in a row, said Fraser Institute associate director of health policy studies Bacchus Barua.

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

The institute uses provincial and territorial data and focuses on priority areas set out by the 2004 Health Accord, including cancer, cardiac disease, diagnostic imaging, joint replacement and sight restoration.

"This has been a continual issue with the Fraser Institute study", he said.

Ontario recorded the shortest wait times, at 15.6 weeks, which is a slight improvement from past year.

Between 2012 and 2016, wait times for hip and knee replacements remained relatively stable, whereas wait times increased for cataract removal and decreased for hip fracture fix, the report says. "In B.C. the average wait time is about 64.7 weeks".

Jennifer D'Silva, a manager at the health institute, said the number of priority procedures performed is rising and Canada's aging population might be a factor. The benchmarks also set by the accord are considered to be medically acceptable wait times.

The Fraser Institute sent surveys to more than 11,800 specialist physicians and received responses from 21 per cent.

Median wait times for medical procedures, according to the Fraser Institute study.

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

Overall previous year, 90 per cent of patients waited 36.4 weeks for treatment, it says.

Ontario's government will invest $1.3 billion in additional funding over the next three years to reduce wait times, said David Jensen, a health ministry spokesman. "It's time for policymakers to consider reforming the outdated policies that continue to contribute to long wait times in Canada".

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