The Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute

December 12, 2011 06:32 ET

The Fraser Institute: Quebecers Face Second Straight Year of Longer Wait Times for Surgical Care

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Dec. 12, 2011) - Quebecers seeking surgical or other therapeutic treatment face a median wait of 19.9 weeks, up from 18.8 weeks in 2010 and the longest wait time since 2003, according to the Fraser Institute's annual report on health care waiting times.

"Over the past two years, surgical wait times have become longer in Quebec. The median wait time is now almost 20 weeks, when in 2009 it was 16.6 weeks," said Mark Rovere, Fraser Institute associate director of health policy research and co-author of the 21st annual edition of Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada.

"Quebecers need to ask themselves if they feel it's acceptable to wait more than 139 days to receive medically necessary treatment. As we have seen in Europe, wait times need not be this long but politicians still choose not to support health policies that have been proven to alleviate such catastrophic waits."

Quebec's median wait time, averaged across 12 surgical specialities, is also higher than the national median wait time of 19.0 weeks.

Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada measures median waiting times to document the degree to which queues for visits to specialists and for diagnostic and surgical procedures are used to control health care expenditures. The report measures the wait times between referral by a general practitioner and consultation with a specialist, the times between seeing the specialist and receiving elective treatment, and the total wait times from GP referral to elective treatment. The full report, along with charts showing wait times for all provinces and medical procedures, is available (in English) at

Total waiting time

Ontario has the shortest total wait time (the wait between referral by a general practitioner and receiving treatment) among all provinces at 14.3 weeks, up from 14.0 weeks in 2010. British Columbia has the second-shortest total wait at 19.3 weeks, up from 18.8 weeks in 2010. Quebec ranks third at 19.9 weeks and Alberta fourth at 21.1 weeks, down from 22.1 weeks in 2010.

The first wait: Between general practitioner and specialist consultation

The waiting time between referral by a general practitioner and consultation with a specialist in Quebec increased to 10.7 weeks in 2011, up from 8.9 weeks in 2010 and higher than this year's national average of 9.5 weeks (also up from 8.9 weeks in 2010).

The provinces with the shortest wait times between seeing a general practitioner and consultation with a specialist are Ontario (7.2 weeks, down from 7.8 weeks in 2010), Manitoba (7.5 weeks, down from 8.6 weeks in 2010), and British Columbia (9.7 weeks, up from 8.2 in 2010).

The second wait: Between specialist consultation and treatment

The waiting time in Quebec between a specialist consultation and treatment-the second stage of waiting-decreased to 9.2 weeks in 2011 from 9.9 weeks in 2010, better than the national average of 9.5 weeks (up from 9.3 weeks last year).

According to the report, Ontario has the shortest waiting time between specialist consultation and treatment at 7.1 weeks, up from 6.2 weeks in 2010. Quebec is second and British Columbia is third (9.6 weeks, down from 10.6 weeks in 2010).

"Quebec is already spending more than half of its available revenue on health care. Clearly, pumping even more money into a fundamentally broken system will not reduce surgical wait times," Rovere said.

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 85 think-tanks. 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

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