Healthcare Wait Times in Canada Reach New High

The Fraser Institute has released its latest annual survey of health care wait times across Canada. This survey focuses on various disciplines and specialities across 11 provinces. The 2023 survey proves that long wait times are not a passing phase in the Canadian health care system but are the new normal, much to the dismay of Canadian patients.

For many Canadians there was an assumption that health care wait times would be greatly reduced following the rise and stabilization of the COVID-19 pandemic but this just isn’t the case. In fact, we are facing the longest wait times ever recorded with a coast-to-coast average of 27.7 weeks between a referral from a general practitioner and receipt of treatment after seeing a specialist.

Healthcare Wait Times in Canada Reach New High

A Snap Shot of Median Wait Times in Canada: An Upward Trajectory

Access to care will vary depending on the type of treatment that you are looking for and which province you are living in. For example, Ontario currently boasts the shortest wait times for medical care in 2023 reporting that most patients received treatment within 21.6 weeks. Meanwhile in Nova Scotia, patients are waiting upwards of 56.7 weeks for treatment.

For reference, physicians consider anything over 8.5 week to be an unreasonable wait time for medical care. Even the current shortest wait time in the country is nearly triple that timeframe!

The global pandemic may have been a catalyst for longer wait times but even a quick review of data from the past several year shows that it is not the underlying cause. The average wait time for Canadian patients was well beyond what is considered reasonable before the first days of the pandemic.

For example:

  • Average Wait Time in 2019: 20.9 weeks
  • Average Wait Time in 2022: 27.4 weeks
  • Average Wait Time in 2023: 27.7 weeks

Canadian patients aren’t just left waiting for treatment itself but for important diagnostic testing, as well. On average, patients are expected to wait approximately 6.6 weeks for a CT scan, 12.9 weeks for an MRI and 5.3 weeks for an ultrasound.

Health Care Wait Times in British Columbia: What Options Do Patients Have?

Throughout British Columbia access to care is hindered by long wait times but also a lack of family doctors taking on new patients. As physicians retire, relocate or close their practices there is a large number of BC residents who don’t have a designated primary care physician. This leaves patients waiting weeks longer for treatment and referrals.

Prolonged wait times for medical care aren’t just a matter of convenience, there are often serious consequences associated with delayed care. Long waiting periods can result in increased discomfort, pain and suffering for patients. In addition to physical pain, the inability to be productive at work can lead to economic stress, a decreased quality of life and, in severe cases, permanent disability or death. This is why more and more patients are choosing to seek medical care abroad with the help of reputable agencies like Venture Surgical.

Healthcare Wait Times in Canada Reach New High