NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 31, 2006

The amount of time Canadians have to wait for surgical and other therapeutic treatment increased slightly in 2006 and continued to hover near the 18 week mark first reached in 2003, according to the Fraser Institute's 16th annual survey, "Waiting Your Turn: Hospital Waiting Lists in Canada."

  • The total waiting time for patients between referral from a general practitioner and treatment, averaged across all 12 specialties and 10 provinces surveyed, increased to 17.8 weeks this year from 17.7 weeks observed in 2005. 
  • The slight increase in the average is the result of an increase in wait times in seven provinces: B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.

This masked the decreased wait times experienced in Alberta, Ontario and Newfoundland, says Nadeem Esmail, Director of Health System Performance at the Fraser Institute and co-author of the survey.

  • The shortest waits for specialist consultations were found in British Columbia and Ontario (7.4 weeks), Manitoba (7.7 weeks) and Saskatchewan (8.4 weeks).
  • The longest waits for specialist consultations occurred in New Brunswick (20.8 weeks), Newfoundland (12.4 weeks) and Prince Edward Island (11.8 weeks).
  • The waiting time between specialist consultation and treatment -- the second stage of waiting -- fell to 9.0 weeks from 9.4 weeks in 2005; increases in waiting times in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island were offset by decreases in the five other provinces.
  • The shortest specialist-to-treatment waits were found in Ontario (7.5 weeks), Alberta (7.8 weeks) and Newfoundland (8.1 weeks); the longest waits between specialist consultation and treatment were in Saskatchewan (20.1 weeks), Prince Edward Island (14.0 weeks) and British Columbia (11.9 weeks).

"These waiting times are the second-longest Canadians have ever experienced, despite record levels of health spending and numerous commitments made by provincial and federal governments," says Esmail.

Source: Nadeem Esmail, "Canadians Waiting Longer for Medical Treatment in 2006 According to Annual Survey," Fraser Institute, October 24, 2006.


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