Wait times costing Canadians: Fraser Institute

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Are you or someone you know waiting for an elective surgeries at B-C hospitals?  

A new study by the Fraser Institute shows long waits for surgery and medical treatment cost Canadians almost $2.1 billion in lost wages and productivity last year. And those costs could increase now that many provinces have postponed elective surgeries as a result of COVID-19.

Bacchus Barua, associate director of health policy studies at the Fraser Institute says while health-care workers across Canada should be commended for the job they're doing to get us through this global pandemic, they could face further challenges as they tackle the backlog of patients waiting for care.

The study finds that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than one million Canadians (1,064,286) waited for medically necessary treatment last year, and each lost an average of $1,963 due to lost wages and reduced productivity.

Across Canada, the costs of waiting for medical care were about $2.1 billion.

The study draws from an annual survey of Canadian physicians who, in 2019, reported a median wait time from specialist appointment to treatment of 10.8 weeks. That is 3.5 weeks longer than what physicians consider clinically reasonable.

The institute says crucially, the $2.1 billion in lost wages is likely a conservative estimate since it doesn't account for an additional 10.1-week wait to see a specialist after getting a referral from a general practitioner.

Taken together (10.1 weeks and 10.8 weeks), the median wait time in Canada for medical treatment was 20.9 weeks last year.

Residents of Manitoba faced the highest per-patient cost of waiting ($3,011), followed by P.E.I. ($2,856) and Alberta ($2,834). BC was 8th on the list (at $1,776).

Average value of time lost during the work week in 2019 for patients waiting for medically necessary treatment (by province):

B.C.                                        $1,776

Alberta                                 $2,834

Saskatchewan                   $2,421

Manitoba                            $3,011

Ontario                                  $1,408

Quebec                                $1,381

New Brunswick                 $2,679

Nova Scotia                        $2,386

P.E.I.                                    $2,856

Newfoundland                 $2,421

   and Labrador  

 

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