Canadian Health Care Wait Times

by John McClaughry

My friend Sally Pipes at the Pacific Research Institute, born and raised in Canada,   reported recently on the wait times in Canada’s single payer health system. “Canadian patients”, she says, “waited a record 21.2 weeks to receive treatment from a specialist after being referred by their general practitioner in 2017, according to the latest survey of wait times by the Fraser Institute, a Vancouver-based think tank. That’s a week longer than last year — and more than double the corresponding figure from 1993, when Fraser began keeping track.”

She continued, “Patients with complex medical needs languished even longer. Those in need of neurosurgery, for instance, faced a median wait of nearly 33 weeks. For orthopedic surgery, wait times exceeded 41 weeks.”

“Rural Canadians faced similar delays. The median wait time for specialist treatment in New Brunswick was almost 42 weeks. In Nova Scotia, it was nearly 38 weeks. And on Prince Edward Island, over 32 weeks. While months-long delays are routine in the Canadian system, years-long waits are not unprecedented. One Ontario patient was recently asked to wait four-and-a-half years to see a neurologist.”

Now why do you suppose single payer health care features these shocking long waiting times? It’s because Canada found a logical and effective way to hold down health spending. Limit the number of doctors. Limit the number of clinics and hospital beds. Hey, nonexistent doctors and hospitals don’t send bills to the government. Brilliant!

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mary F Daly February 16, 2018 at 12:55 pm

I was an Occupational Health Nurse in the early 90’s here in Vermont. There were times I was referred a work injured patient from Canada. One time it was a gentleman from north of Montreal with back pain. My task was to get him an appointment in Burlington with a Neurosurgeon so he could get treatment in a timely fashion. His Dad often drove him down to Burlington for his appointments. One time his wife drove him so his Dad wouldn’t miss an eye appointment and have to wait at least a year for another appointment. Socialized medicine is not what you might think it is. It is okay if you don’t have any medical problems but Iit is a nightmare if you do.


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