Wait Times – Fraser Institute Report December 2016

An update on the status of wait times in Canada was released in 2016 by the Fraser Institute. Titled “Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Canada in 2016” the report provides important information on all the provinces. We have summarized the key findings from this report on wait times in cancer care in all the provinces below. You can also read the full report for yourself.

This edition of Waiting Your Turn indicates that, overall, waiting times for medically necessary treatment have not improved since last year. Specialist physicians surveyed across 10 provinces and 12 specialties report a median waiting time of 18.2 weeks between referral from a general practitioner and receipt of treatment. This wait time is 96% longer than in 1993 when it was just 9.3 weeks.

There is a great deal of variation in the total waiting time faced by patients across the provinces. Ontario reports the shortest total wait (14.1 weeks), followed by Saskatchewan (14.2 weeks), and Quebec (16.9 weeks). On the other hand, New Brunswick reports the longest wait at 37.3 weeks, followed by Prince Edward Island (35.9 weeks) and Nova Scotia (32.7 weeks).

The same is true of variation among specialties. Patients wait longest between a GP referral and orthopaedic surgery (42.2 weeks), neurosurgery (31.2 weeks), and plastic surgery (27.1 weeks). By contrast, the shortest total waits exist for medical oncology (3.3 weeks), radiation oncology (4.2 weeks), and elective cardiovascular surgery (9.9 weeks).

The positive take away from this report is that the shortest wait times overall were found in medical oncology. Another positive finding in this report is that in terms of median actual wait versus the median clinically reasonable wait by specialty, the differences between these two categories were among the smallest for oncology.

What this all means is that for Canadians diagnosed with cancer they face some of the shortest wait times once they are receiving treatment in medical and radiation oncology. CCSN would like to congratulate Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan for having the shortest overall wait times. However, we are concerned about the longer wait times in the Atantic provinces and we are also concerned about some of the increased wait times that were noted other provinces.