The Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute

November 26, 2014 06:15 ET

The Fraser Institute: Quebecers Face Four-Month Wait Time for Medically Necessary Surgery

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwired - Nov. 26, 2014) - Quebecers in need of medically necessary surgery or other therapeutic treatment can expect to wait 16.9 weeks, according to the 24th edition of Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada, 2014 Report, published by the Fraser Institute.

Although this year's median wait time (from referral by a general practitioner to treatment) has improved over last year's 17.8 weeks, it's more than double the 7.3 week wait patients faced in 1993.

"Despite high levels of health care spending, wait times in Quebec remain too long for crucial and potentially life-saving health care," said Dr. Robert Ouellet, senior fellow at the Fraser Institute.

For example, the total wait for internal medicine procedures (colonoscopy, angioplasty, etc.) in Quebec (22.9 weeks) is far above the national average (15.7).

Quebecers also wait longer than the national average for radiation oncology (4.8 weeks compared to 4.2 nationally) and medical oncology (4.2 weeks compared to 3.3 nationally).

"Patients in this province often wait longer than what physicians consider clinically reasonable for treatment after seeing a specialist, and that fact should trouble anyone interested in the health and well-being of Quebecers," Ouellet said.

More broadly, this year's report finds that the median wait time in Canada (across all 10 provinces) between referral from a general practitioner and treatment by a specialist is 18.2 weeks, the same as in 2013 and 96 per cent longer than in 1993, when it was just 9.3 weeks.

Among provinces, wait times in 2014 (from referral to treatment) were longest in New Brunswick (37.3 weeks), Prince Edward Island (35.9 weeks) and Nova Scotia (32.7 weeks). Ontario (at 14.1 weeks) had the shortest waits, followed by Saskatchewan (14.2) and Quebec (16.9).

Finally, the number of medical procedures Canadians are waiting for has increased to 937,345 in 2014 from 928,120 in 2013.

"If Canada wants to provide more timely access to quality health care, it should consider adopting some of the policies used by other countries with universal health care systems, such as Switzerland, the Netherlands and Australia," said Bacchus Barua, study co-author and senior economist at the Fraser Institute's Centre for Health Policy Studies.

Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada is Canada's only comprehensive measurement of wait times for medically necessary health care. Based on an annual survey of physicians practising in 12 specialties in each province, the report measures the wait times from referral (by a general practitioner) to treatment, from referral to consultation with a specialist, from specialist appointment to treatment, and the wait times for MRI, CT and ultrasound scans.

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The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global network of think-tanks in 87 countries. 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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