NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 9, 2008

The median wait time for Canadians seeking surgical or other therapeutic treatment dropped to 17.3 weeks in 2008 from 18.3 weeks in 2007, according to new research published by the Fraser Institute.

Despite the small improvement, many Canadians are still waiting 121 days or more for necessary medical treatment.  However, a seven day reduction in total waiting times is far removed from the goal of providing timely access to health care, says Nadeem Esmail, co-author of the study:

  • This year's report shows the main decrease in wait times occurred in the time between a referral from a general practitioner and consultation with a specialist, which decreased to 8.5 weeks from 9.2 weeks.
  • The 2008 survey shows the median wait time between seeing a specialist and receiving treatment dropped to 8.7 weeks in 2008 from 9.1 weeks in 2007.

Other findings:

  • Ontario recorded the shortest total wait time (the wait between visiting a general practitioner and receiving treatment), at 13.3 weeks, a decrease from 15 weeks recorded in 2007.
  • British Columbia had the second shortest total wait at 17 weeks, down from 19 weeks in 2007.
  • Manitoba at 17.2 weeks was third, a decrease from the 20.2 weeks in 2007.

Despite the overall decrease in national median waiting times, some provinces experienced increases in total wait times:

  • Saskatchewan has the longest total wait time at 28.8 weeks, an increase from 27.2 in 2007.
  • Nova Scotia jumped to 27.6 weeks from 24.8 in 2007.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador had the third longest wait time at 24.4 weeks, up from 24.1 weeks in 2007.

Source: Michael Walker, Nadeem Esmail and Maureen Hazel, "Waiting Your Turn: Hospital Waiting Lists in Canada," Fraser Institute, October 7, 2008.


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