Canadian Medical Association

Canadian Medical Association

October 06, 2005 13:00 ET

CMA to Governments: Time Running Out for Action on Wait Times

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 6, 2005) - The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) warned today that patients have no more time to wait for governments to produce benchmarks for waiting for health care services and a plan to limit those waits.

"We are 12 weeks away from the date when governments said they would have a plan to measure wait times and ensure patients across the country weren't waiting too long for health care services," said CMA President, Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai. "A year has passed since the 10-year health plan was signed, but we have seen precious little progress toward pan-Canadian wait time benchmarks."

In a speech today to the Empire Club in Toronto, Dr. Collins-Nakai warned that Canadians have not forgotten that they were promised concrete action on a national scale by Canada's First Ministers by December 31, 2005.

In a poll done for the CMA last week by Ipsos-Reid, and released today, Canadians spoke out clearly on how they want their elected leaders to get on with the job of tackling long wait times for health care services.

The poll found:

- 86 per cent said that Canadians should have the same wait time
standards regardless of which province or territory they live in.
- 79 per cent of Canadians said the federal government should set up
a fund that would cover the costs of patients who have to travel to
get timely access to needed health care services.
- 72 per cent said guaranteeing timely access to health care is a
shared federal, provincial/territorial responsibility.

"These data paint a pretty clear picture for our leaders," said Dr. Collins-Nakai. "My message to Canadians, and to our political leaders: the clock is ticking, and it is ticking ominously."

"My patients are frustrated, and I am frustrated for them," added Dr. Collins-Nakai. "Some of them are getting sicker as they wait. They want, and deserve, action now from their elected leaders."

Health care professionals remain concerned that input from the Wait Time Alliance - a consortium of six national specialty organizations and the CMA - has been ignored by governments. In August, the Wait Time Alliance produced medically-agreed upon benchmarks and performance indicators in five key treatment and diagnostic areas and an implementation plan that governments could use immediately.

"The Wait Time Alliance Final Report was released in August and greeted by silence even though it gave all governments a set of tools on a silver platter to reduce wait times in their own priority areas," added Dr. Collins-Nakai. "Even with these tools ready to go, we have still been denied the opportunity to even meet with federal, provincial and territorial representatives."

You can access the Ipsos-Reid poll at

Contact Information

  • Canadian Medical Association
    Carole Lavigne
    Media Relations
    (613) 731-8610 or 1(800) 663-7336 ext. 1266
    (613) 447-0866 (Cell)