The Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute

December 06, 2010 06:32 ET

The Fraser Institute: Quebec's Wait Times for Surgery Jump to More Than 18 Weeks, Two Weeks Longer Than in 2009

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Dec. 6, 2010) - The median wait time for Quebecers seeking surgical or other therapeutic treatment increased to 18.8 weeks in 2010 from 16.6 weeks in 2009, according to a new report from the Fraser Institute, Canada's leading public policy think-tank.

Quebec's total median wait time, averaged across 12 specialities, is also higher than the national median wait time of 18.2 weeks.

"Quebec has done an about-face on the improvement seen last year, when the median wait time fell to 16.6 weeks from 18.7 weeks in 2008," said Mark Rovere, Fraser Institute associate director of health policy research and co-author of the 20th annual edition of Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada.

"The fact that Quebecers are now waiting more than 132 days for medically necessary treatment is alarming. Unfortunately, too many politicians continue to cling to the fundamentally broken system while dismissing critical policy reforms that could help ease patients' physical and emotional suffering as they wait for treatment."

The hospital waiting list survey 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 www.institutfraser.org.

Total waiting time

Ontario recorded the shortest total wait time (the wait between referral by a general practitioner and receiving treatment) among all provinces at 14.0 weeks, an increase from 12.5 weeks in 2009. Manitoba had the second-shortest total wait at 17.5 weeks, up from 14.3 weeks in 2009. Quebec and British Columbia rank third at 18.8 weeks, with B.C.'s median wait increasing from 17.0 weeks in 2009.

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 8.9 weeks in 2010, the same as the national average, up from 8.3 weeks in 2009.

The provinces with the shortest wait times between seeing a general practitioner and consultation with a specialist are Saskatchewan (6.7 weeks, down from 11.2 weeks in 2009), Ontario (7.8 weeks, up from 6.7 weeks in 2009), and British Columbia (8.2 weeks, up from 7.8 in 2009).

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 9.9 weeks in 2010 from 8.2 weeks in 2009, exceeding the national average of 9.3 weeks.

According to the report, the waiting time between specialist consultation and treatment is the lowest in Ontario at 6.2 weeks, up from 5.8 weeks in 2009. Manitoba is the second lowest (8.9 weeks, up from 8.0 weeks in 2009), and New Brunswick is third (9.0 weeks, down from 11.4 weeks in 2009). Quebec is fourth.

"Despite huge hikes in health spending, Canadians are waiting 96 per cent longer for surgery than they did in 1993," Rovere said.

"The current system is failing Quebecers and all Canadians, who deserve the timely access to treatment and value for money that patients in many other industrialized countries enjoy. Policy makers must admit that now is the time for health care reform."

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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 80 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 www.fraserinstitute.org.

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