Government of Canada

Government of Canada
Government of Manitoba

Government of Manitoba

March 14, 2008 12:00 ET

New Pilot Project to Further Reduce Wait Times Announced for Manitoba

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA--(Marketwire - March 14, 2008) - The Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Health and the Honourable Theresa Oswald, Minister of Health for Manitoba today announced additional advances in Patient Wait Times Guarantees with an investment of $5.8 million for a pilot project in Manitoba. The project, Bridging Generalist and Specialist Care - The Right Door, The First Time, will implement innovative approaches to streamline referrals from general practitioners to specialists, in areas including cancer services, orthopaedics, ophthalmology and mental health.

"Today's announcement addresses a common concern of Canadians - the unacceptable length of time between a referral by a doctor and the actual appointment with the specialist," said Minister Clement. "That is why our Government is investing funding for this project through the Patient Wait Times Guarantee Pilot Project Fund, which will help to ensure patients get the quality health care they need when they need it."

The aim of the Manitoba pilot project is to develop and test new ways of ensuring timely, seamless and appropriate care for patients. Guaranteed time frames for referral to specialists will be established in seven specific practice areas, and alternative options will be offered to patients involved in the project who may exceed these timelines. The project will also contribute to a more efficient health care system by reducing inappropriate referrals and preventing duplication and unnecessary lab and diagnostic tests. Manitoba is the first province to focus on reducing the wait between patient referral and specialist consultation.

"Manitoba is recognized as an innovative leader in reducing wait times. Since taking office in 1999, we have worked diligently to bring down wait times for a variety of health services," said Minister Oswald. "This made-in-Manitoba initiative builds on our successes and will further reduce wait times for patients through a more efficient referral process."

An interactive referral system will be designed to support family physicians and other clinicians in referring patients for specialist care. This will include a comprehensive list of specialists and their specific services, the criteria for referrals and improved communication processes between physicians.

"This will make it easier for family physicians to provide patients with appropriate care in a timely manner, using the latest information on wait times within specific areas," said Dr. Luis Oppenheimer, the Provincial Director of Patient Access. "Ultimately, it will help patients to make more informed decisions about their own care, while reducing the wait for specialist consultations."

The Government of Canada is providing $5 million in funding for the Manitoba project. A further $843,000 will come from various partners in the project, which include the Government of Manitoba, the University of Manitoba, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and private industry.

"This innovative project is one more example of the progress we are making in supporting provinces and territories to provide Canadians with greater certainty that they will have timely access to care," said Minister Clement.

The federal Budget 2007 announced the direct investment of more than $1 billion in new funding towards the advancement of Patient Wait Time Guarantees. This included some $30 million for pilot projects that will support provinces and territories to test innovative approaches to patient wait times guarantees. A key component will be facilitating the best outcomes for patients by offering alternative care options where wait times are exceeded.

Today's announcement complements two pilot projects announced earlier this year in Nova Scotia under the Patient Wait Time Guarantee Pilot Project Fund. It reflects further progress in the government's ongoing commitment to ensure timely access to health care. Strengthening health care is a long-term challenge that requires a combination of leadership, partnership and foresight from all of us - patients, health care providers and governments.

The Government of Canada is actively working with other provincial and territorial governments to finalize agreements on additional pilot projects to develop and test Patient Wait Time Guarantees. Further announcements on investments under this $30 million initiative can be expected in the coming weeks and months.

Health Canada news releases are available on the Internet at

Egalement disponible en francais

Contact Information

  • Media Inquiries:
    Health Canada
    Office of the Honourable Tony Clement
    Federal Minister of Health
    Laryssa Waler
    Manitoba Cabinet Communications
    David Leibl
    Public Enquiries:
    1-866 225-0709