The Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute

October 15, 2007 06:00 ET

The Fraser Institute: Hospital Wait Times in Quebec Increased by Almost One Week to More Than 19 Weeks in 2007

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Oct. 15, 2007) - A typical Quebecer seeking surgical or other therapeutic treatment had to wait 19.4 weeks in 2007, almost one week longer than in 2006, according to new research published today by the independent research organization Institut Fraser.

The total waiting time for Quebecers in 2006 was 18.5 weeks.

"Despite government promises and the billions of dollars funneled into Quebec's health care system, the average patient waited more than 19 weeks in 2007 between seeing their family doctor and receiving the surgery or treatment they required," said Nadeem Esmail, Director of Health System Performance Studies at The Fraser Institute and co-author of the 17th annual edition of "Waiting Your Turn: Hospital Waiting Lists in Canada".

The survey measures median waiting times to document the extent to which queues for visits to specialists and for diagnostic and surgical procedures are used to control health care expenditures. The complete report along with charts showing wait times for all provinces is available at www.fraserinstitute.org.

Quebec's total median wait time, averaged across 12 specialties, of 19.4 weeks was also longer than the national median of 18.3 weeks.

"It's becoming clearer that the current health care system can not meet the needs of Quebecers in a timely and efficient manner, unless you consider access to a waiting list timely and efficient," said Tasha Kheiriddin, the Fraser Institute's Directrice pour le Quebec et la francophonie.

Ontario recorded the shortest waiting time overall in 2007 (the wait between visiting a general practitioner and receiving treatment), at 15 weeks, followed by British Columbia (19 weeks). Saskatchewan (27.2 weeks), New Brunswick (25.2 weeks) and Nova Scotia (24.8 weeks) recorded the longest waits in Canada.

The First Wait: Between General Practitioner and Specialist Consultation

The waiting time between referral by a GP and consultation with a specialist in Quebec decreased to 10 weeks in 2007 from 10.2 recorded in 2006.

The shortest waits for specialist consultations were in Ontario (7.6 weeks), Manitoba (8.2 weeks), and British Columbia (8.8 weeks). The longest waits for consultation with a specialist were recorded in New Brunswick (14.7 weeks), Newfoundland (13.5 weeks), and Prince Edward Island (12.7 weeks).

The Second Wait: Between Specialist Consultation and Treatment

The waiting time in Quebec between a specialist consultation and treatment-the second stage of waiting-increased to 9.4 weeks in 2007 from 8.3 weeks in 2006.

Health Expenditures and Waiting Times

The shortest specialist-to-treatment waits were found in Ontario (7.3 weeks) and Alberta (8.9 weeks). The longest waits were in Saskatchewan (16.5 weeks), Nova Scotia (13.6 weeks), and Manitoba (12.0 weeks).

"Quebecers should be concerned that waiting times are increasing in this province along with expenditures. Taxpayers are paying more than enough to deliver universal access to health services without waiting times. All we need are the right health policies to make it happen," Kheiriddin said.

"The evidence from Europe and elsewhere in the developed world clearly demonstrates that wholesale reform of our universal access health insurance program based on the principles of competition and appropriate financial incentives will greatly improve access to necessary health care services for all Quebecers."

The Fraser Institute is an independent research and educational organization based in Canada. Its mission is to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of individuals. To protect the Institute's independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit www.fraserinstitute.org.

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