Canadian surgery wait times longest yet

Canadians waited longer than they have in more than a decade for non-emergency surgery this year, despite a multi-billion-dollar effort by governments to speed up medical care, according to a new report from the Fraser Institute.


  • The average wait between being referred to a specialist and receiving an elective operation was 18.3 weeks in 2006, up from 17.8 the year previous.

  • Ontario had the shortest average surgery wait time, 15 weeks while Saskatchewan had the longest, at 27 weeks.

  • The time between being referred by a general practitioner and seeing a specialist grew to 9.2 weeks from 8.8 weeks in 2006, while the second stage of waiting – between seeing the specialist and getting the operation – edged up from nine to 9.1 weeks.

  • Waits in the internal medicine specialty, gynaecology, urology and radiation oncology were all up by varying amounts.

    "Clearly, money is not the solution," said Nadeem Esmail, a Fraser health care analyst and co-author of the report. "We're dumping money into the system; we're piling on cash that the system has available to deliver health care and it is not able to significantly reduce the waiting times. In fact, we're seeing the wait times continue to grow."

    As it has in previous years, the Institute argued that the way to solve the backlogs is to introduce competition between private and public providers of government-funded health care and allow a parallel private system.

    Source: Tom Blackwell, Surgery Waits Longest Yet, National Post, October 16, 2007; based upon: Nadeem Esmail and Dr. Michael A. Walker, Waiting Your Turn: Hospital Waiting Lists in Canada, 17th Edition, Fraser Institute, October 15, 2007.

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