Canadian health care is extremely expensive, inadequate and unsustainable. We must join the rest of the developed world with better health care outcomes than our own and allow private insurers to compete with provincial health care before it's too late.
Source: Fraser institute
One million on a waiting list: Study
Medical wait times for necessary treatment are long and getting longer across Canada, causing unnecessary suffering, disabilities and death, according to a new study by the Fraser Institute.
It found the median wait time across 12 medical specialties was 20.9 weeks in 2019, up from 19.8 weeks in 2018.
It’s the second-longest median wait time ever recorded by the Fraser Institute, surpassed only by a 21.2 week median wait time in 2017.
It’s also 124% longer than the 9.3 week median wait time the Fraser Institute reported when it began studying the issue in 1993.
“Across Canada, patients continue to wait more than four months for medically necessary treatment,” said Bacchus Barua, co-author of the study Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada, 2019.
“Long wait lines for medically necessary treatments increase suffering for patients, decrease quality of life, and in the worst cases, lead to disability or death,” said Barua, associate director of health policy studies, for the fiscally-conservative think tank.
The study defines medical wait times as the time it takes for a general practitioner (i.e. a family doctor) to refer a patient to a specialist, plus the time until the patient ultimately receives treatment.
The report estimates more than one million Canadians are on medical waiting lists for necessary treatment, assuming each patient is waiting for one treatment.
“Wait times for medically necessary treatment are not benign inconveniences,” the study says.
“Wait times can, and do, have serious consequences such as increased pain, suffering and mental anguish. In certain instances, they can also result in poorer medical outcomes — transforming potentially reversible illnesses or injuries into chronic, irreversible conditions, or even permanent disabilities.”
A previous study by the Fraser Institute estimated the private costs incurred by
Canadians waiting for medically necessary treatment in 2018 was over $2 billion, due to lost salaries and reduced work productivity.
Nationally, wait times were longest at 39.1 weeks for orthopaedic surgery (for example, hip and knee replacements) and shortest for medical oncology (cancer) at 4.4 weeks.
Ontario had the shortest median wait time for medically necessary treatment in 2019 of 16 weeks, up from 15.7 weeks in 2018.
Prince Edward Island had the longest at 49.3 weeks in 2019, compared to 39.8 weeks last year, although the study cautions the numbers in Atlantic Canada may be skewed because there were proportionately fewer responses to the survey there compared to the rest of the country.
Every province recorded longer medical wait times in 2019, except New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
The Fraser Institute has long argued patients should be allowed to spend their own money for medically necessary treatment.
Opponents say that would create a two-tier health care system based on ability to pay.
The issue may ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court of Canada.
That’s because of an ongoing court case in B.C., where a doctor is arguing the fact his patients are denied the ability to use their own money for medically necessary treatment, while the government forces them onto lengthy waiting lists for treatment, is unconstitutional.
Both sides agree the case is going to end up in the Supreme Court.
In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled in a Quebec case that, in the words of then chief justice Beverley Mclachlin, “access to a waiting list is not access to health care” but the decision only applied to Quebec, and to the Quebec Charter of Rights.
A claim for equality of material position can be met only by a government with totalitarian powers. Friedrich August von Hayek