BC patients wait more than 26 weeks for medical care

Health-care wait times longest in two decades of tracking: report

Health-care wait times longest in two decades of tracking: report

The Fraser Institute released its annual report Thursday on queues for specialist visits and diagnostic and surgical procedures.

New Brunswick saw the longest average at nearly 42 weeks, while Ontario boasts the shortest of 15.

"Long wait times are not a trivial matter - they can increase suffering for patients, decrease quality of life, and in the worst cases, lead to disability or death", study author Bacchus Barua said in a statement.

But the Canadian Institute for Health Information says the medically acceptable wait time for a hip or knee replacement is 26 weeks and more than 70 per cent of Canadians receive treatment within that time frame.

The study, which surveys doctors across the country, looks at wait times across 12 medical specialties.

Approximately 2.9 per cent of Canadians were waiting for treatment in 2017, the study says.

The problem appears to be focused on the Atlantic provinces.

Between 2012 and 2016, wait times for hip and knee replacements remained relatively stable, while they increased for cataract removal and decreased for hip fracture fix, the report says. "In B.C. the average wait time is about 64.7 weeks".

Jennifer D'Silva, manager of emerging issues at the institute, said the number of priority procedures being performed continues to rise and Canada's aging population might be a factor.

The Fraser Institute sent surveys to more than 11,800 specialist physicians and received responses from 21 per cent.

Nine out of 10 hip replacements were completed in 53 weeks, exceeding the national benchmark of 26 weeks, according to the website.

Barua said the waits for radiation treatment for cancer patients are the worst in the country at three-and-a-half months.

"New Brunswick has an aging population and this is impacting the demand for specific types of interventions, for example total hip and knee joint replacements", Macfarlane said in an email. The Fraser Institute has been tracking wait times in Canada since 1993.

However, the research also cautions that surgical demand continues to increase and jurisdictions will be challenged to meet benchmarks, Jarbeau said.