Skip to main content

“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

FRASER INSTITUTE - Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada, 2020 Report

Waiting for treatment has become a defining characteristic of Canadian health care. In order to document the queues for visits to specialists and for diagnostic and surgical procedures in the country, the Fraser Institute has—for over two decades—surveyed specialist physicians across 12 specialties and 10 provinces.

This edition of Waiting Your Turn indicates that, overall, waiting times for medically necessary treatment have increased since last year. Specialist physicians surveyed report a median waiting time of 22.6 weeks between referral from a general practitioner and receipt of treatment—longer than the wait of 20.9 weeks reported in 2019. This year’s wait time is the longest wait time recorded in this survey’s history and is 143% longer than in 1993, when it was just 9.3 weeks.

There is a great deal of variation in the total waiting time faced by patients across the provinces. Ontario reports the shortest total wait—17.4 weeks—while Prince Edward Island reports the longest—46.5 weeks. There is also a great deal of variation among specialties. Patients wait longest between a GP referral and ophthalmic procedures (34.1 weeks), while those waiting for medical oncology begin treatment in 4.2 weeks.

The total wait time that patients face can be examined in two consecutive segments.

  1. From referral by a general practitioner to consultation with a specialist. The waiting time in this segment increased from 10.1 weeks in 2019 to 10.5 weeks in 2020. This wait time is 184% longer than in 1993, when it was 3.7 weeks. The shortest waits for specialist consultations are in Quebec (7.9 weeks) while the longest occur in Prince Edward Island (27.2 weeks).
  2. From the consultation with a specialist to the point at which the patient receives treatment. The waiting time in this segment increased from 10.8 weeks in 2019 to 12.1 weeks this year. This wait time is 116% longer than in 1993 when it was 5.6 weeks, and 4.3 weeks longer than what physicians consider to be clinically “reasonable” (7.8 weeks). The shortest specialist-to-treatment waits are found in Ontario (8.7 weeks), while the longest are in Nova Scotia (30.1 weeks).

It is estimated that, across the 10 provinces, the total number of procedures for which people are waiting in 2020 is 1,224,198. This means that, assuming that each person waits for only one procedure, 3.2% of Canadians are waiting for treatment in 2020. The proportion of the population waiting for treatment varies from a low of 1.97% in Quebec to a high of 9.97% in Nova Scotia. It is important to note that physicians report that only about 12.39% of their patients are on a waiting list because they requested a delay or postponement.

 

Patients also experience significant waiting times for various diagnostic technologies across the provinces. This year, Canadians could expect to wait 5.4 weeks for a computed tomography (CT) scan, 11.1 weeks for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, and 3.5 weeks for an ultrasound.

Because of the difficulties in collecting data associated with the COVID-19 outbreak, the survey-collection window was extended in this edition of the report. Data were collected between January 7, 2020 and October 1, 2020. Despite this extension, this year’s response rate was 11%, lower than in previous years. As a result, the findings in this report should be interpreted with caution.

Research has repeatedly indicated that wait times for medically necessary treatment are not benign inconveniences. Wait times can, and do, have serious consequences such as increased pain, suffering, and mental anguish. In certain instances, they can also result in poorer medical outcomes—transforming potentially reversible illnesses or injuries into chronic, irreversible conditions, or even permanent disabilities. In many instances, patients may also have to forgo their wages while they wait for treatment, resulting in an economic cost to the individuals themselves and the economy in general.

The results of this year’s survey indicate that despite provincial strategies to reduce wait times and high levels of health expenditure, it is clear that patients in Canada continue to wait too long to receive medically necessary treatment.

 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

It seems the call for blood donors is being responded to, however ... “This effort is a marathon, not a sprint” says Canadian Blood Services

A week and a half ago I wrote the commentary ... “ While the national inventory is currently strong, an increase in blood donor cancellations is a warning sign of potential challenges to maintaining a health inventory of blood ” It was written as a result of talk about a potential blood shortage that would occur if people stopped donating due to the COVID-19 virus. It seems the call to Canadians was responded to, however, as I was told this afternoon ... “ T his effort is a marathon, not a sprint ”. As it now stands now, donors are able to attend clinics which are held in Vancouver (2), Victoria, Surrey, and in Kelowna, so I asked if there any plans to re-establish traveling clinics to others communities - for example in Kamloops, Prince George, Prince Rupert, Revelstoke or Cranbrook, and perhaps further north at perhaps Ft. St. John? According to Communications Lead Regional Public Affairs Specialist Marcelo Dominguez, Canadian Blood Services is still on

FEDLSTED -- Rules will have to relax-- the question is how and when

The media has created a fervour over the mathematical models that allegedly help governments predict the future of Coronavirus infections in the general population. Mathematical modelling has limited use and value. We need to understand is that the data available on Coronavirus (COVID-19) infections in Canada is far too small for statistical reliability. The data available for the whole world is useless due to variables in how nations responded to Coronavirus infections. There is no commonality in steps taken to combat virus spread and no similarity in the age demographics of world nations, so the numbers you see on the daily tracking of world infections are not useful in developing a model of infection rates that can be relied on. Mathematical models of the future spread of Coronavirus are better than nothing, but not a whole lot better.  Mathematical models must include assumptions on virus spreads, and various factors involved. As they are used in projections, a small erro

WUN FEATHER -- can we just put those two names to bed for a while? You can call me an ‘Indian’ and I won't mind. And let's not call the farmers and ranchers ‘Settlers’ anymore

Hey there # TeamCanada !   I can't take it any more! Well, I guess I can, but I don't want to. I want to talk about the names we call each other. My very best friends, and all my Elderly Aunts and Uncles call me an Indian. I have walked into the most magnificent dining hall at the Air Liquide Head office, Quai D'orsay in Paris, France, surrounded by the worlds top producing Cryogenics team, and Patrick Jozon, the President of Air Liquide, has seen me enter the room, and yelled: " Bonjour! There is Warren! He is my Indian friend from Canada! He and I chased Beavers together in Northern BC!" And over 400 people turned to look at me and then they all smiled, and nodded. To most European people, an Indian is an absolute ICON!   The ultimate symbol of North America. They love us. And then, one time I had just gotten married and took vacation days off to take my new wife to meet my Grandmother; I was so proud. But as soon a

Labels

Show more