The Fraser Institute has annually surveyed specialist physicians across Canada to estimate how long patients wait for treatment. Our latest survey found that in 2016, overall, patients were waiting 20 weeks between referral to treatment - the longest wait in our survey's history and 115 per cent longer than in 1993.
Senior Economist, Fraser Institute’s Centre for Health Policy Studies
Bacchus Barua is a Senior Economist in the Fraser Institute’s Centre for Health Policy Studies. He completed his B.A. (Honours) in Economics at the University of Delhi (Ramjas College) and received an M.A. in Economics from Simon Fraser University. Bacchus is the author of the Provincial Healthcare Index (2013) and Why We Wait: Physician Opinions on Factors Affecting Health Care Wait Times; as well as the lead author of Hospital Report Card: British Columbia (2011) and Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Healthcare in Canada (2010–2012).
Shorter waits for hip-fracture repair, and eight out of 10 Canadians receiving "priority procedures" within government-defined benchmarks. Sounds pretty good, right? However, these highlights from the Canadian Institute of Healthcare Information's annual update of Wait Times for Priority Procedures in Canada are little more than feel-good distractions from the real story.
04/12/2016 09:57 EDT
Calls for a government-operated national drug insurance program have been getting louder over the past few months, culminating most recently with premiers from across the country signing a "prescription" for "National Drug Coverage." The notion that a national government-run drug plan is the obvious solution is misguided.
08/06/2015 08:55 EDT
Imagine being told you need medical treatment, but have to wait for more than two months before you can get it. This is the average wait time experience for more than 900,000 Canadian patients. While some of them may be lucky enough to wait for their treatment without an impact on quality of life, others may endure weeks of pain and suffering. In some cases, patients waiting for treatment may no longer be able to do their jobs properly and may be forced to take time off work and forgo their income.
07/23/2015 08:52 EDT
British Columbia's health ministry recently announced it will invest $10 million to increase surgical capacity, with an eye on reducing wait times. Part of the plan involves contracting some surgeries out to private clinics, who now become temporary partners in the effort to deliver timely universal health care. This is sensible policy, but only a small step in the right direction.
06/17/2015 05:52 EDT
Calls for a national drug insurance program, commonly referred to as Pharmacare, can regularly be found in Canada's media. While access to prescription drugs is an important component of any well-functioning healthcare system, there's little evidence that an expanded government-run single-payer program is either necessary or ideal.
05/12/2015 05:50 EDT
Canadian Institute for Health Information's updated report on wait times for healthcare in Canada is not comprehensive, and ignores almost 90 per cent of surgical procedures performed in Canada. In reality, the actual delays patients experience in Canada are considerably longer than what the CIHI and governments routinely report.
04/20/2015 05:49 EDT
"Don't touch my free health care," is a common refrain from defenders of the status quo whenever anyone broaches the topic of reforming Canada's health-care system. While politicians and interest groups no doubt share a portion of the blame for perpetuating the myth of a $0 price tag for health care in Canada, their ability to carry public opinion with them stems from the murky manner in which health care is funded.
10/17/2014 05:22 EDT
The so-called "jewel of Canada's health system" is, in fact, exactly what sets us apart from the top-performing universal access health care systems across the developed world. Freeing patients to seek care on their own terms with their own resources actually more closely follows the European approach to health care where universally insured residents of countries like Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, the UK, and others have always had the option to choose private parallel care.
07/25/2014 12:59 EDT
Since 1993, the average wait for treatment has almost doubled, per capita public healthcare expenditures have increased by about 40 per cent, and it is becoming increasingly apparent that patients are suffering the consequences. And yet, there is no real indication that politicians intend to introduce meaningful reforms to solve this problem.
06/18/2014 12:36 EDT
Unfortunately, given the current government monopoly on healthcare insurance, the lack of appropriate incentives, and unwillingness to consider policies to reduce wait times that seem to have been successful in European countries with universal health care, it is entirely possible that Canadians may continue to experience some of the longest wait times in the developed world.
04/17/2014 06:05 EDT
A recent testimony before a U.S. Senate subcommittee by Dr. Danielle Martin, former head of the Canadian Doctors for Medicare, has given Canadians the chance to indulge in what may be a favourite pastime -- criticizing the American health care system. While the American health care system has some important shortcomings, the same holds true for Canada's. Inordinately long wait times, medical resource shortages, and ballooning healthcare costs have become defining characteristics of healthcare in our country -- and denigrating the American approach will not fix those problems.
03/22/2014 11:48 EDT
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