Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada 2010 Report

The Fraser Institute's 20th annual waiting list survey finds that province-wide wait times for surgical and other therapeutic treatments in Canada have increased in 2010:

  • Specialist physicians surveyed across 12 special ties and 10 Canadian provinces report a total waiting time of 18.2 weeks between referral from a general practitioner and elective treatment in 2010.
  • Patients in Ontario experience the shortest wait (14 weeks) followed by Manitoba (17.5 weeks), and British Columbia and Quebec (18.8 weeks).
  • Patients wait longest to undergo orthopedic surgery (35.6 weeks) and wait least for medical oncology treatment (4.9 weeks).
  • Canadians wait nearly 3 weeks longer than what physicians believe is "reasonable" for elective treatment after an appointment with a specialist.
  • Throughout the provinces, in 2010 people are waiting for an estimated 825,827 procedures. Assuming that each person waits for only one procedure, 2.45 percent of Canadians are waiting for treatment.
  • Only 9 percent of patients are on waiting lists because they requested a delay or postponement.

    From an economic standpoint, a study by Stokes and Somerville (2008) found that the cumulative total lost economic output that represents the cost of waiting for treatment for total joint replacement surgery, cataract surgery, coronary artery bypass graft surgery and MRI scans in 2007 was an estimated $14.8 billion. More recently, Esmail (2009) estimated the cost of waiting per patient in Canada to be approximately $859 in 2009 if only hours during the normal working week were considered "lost," and as much as $2,628 if all hours of the week (minus 8 hours per night sleeping) were considered "lost."

    Source: Bacchus Barua, Mark Rovere and Brett J. Skinner, "Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada 2010 Report," Fraser Institute, December 2010.

    For text: http://www.fraserinstitute.org/uploadedFiles/fraser-ca/Content/research-news/research/publications/waiting-your-turn-2010.pdf

    For more on Health Issues: http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_Category=16

    FMF Policy Bulletin / 21 December 2010

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