Canadians dead last on wait times

Canada may be renowned for its overall healthcare system, but the country’s patient wait time is a different story.

A recent report released by the Health Council of Canada reveals that Canada ranks last among 11 OECD countries in relation to how fast patients can make an appointment with their family doctor.

The report, titled “Where You Live Matters,” reveals Canada has seen no improvements in wait times since 2004.  Depending on where they live in Canada, patients’ experience with the healthcare system varies drastically.

According to the report, British Columbia ranked at the top in terms of the number of patients having access to a family physician, with 46 per cent saying they were able to see a doctor on the same day or the next day, while Newfoundland ranked last with 31 per cent.

Chronic conditions

Christina Spencer, Communications Coordinator at Patients Canada, recognizes that Canada’s rank in the report speaks to a complex problem in the healthcare system, and emphasizes the importance of people having access to a family physician.

There is a growing increase in Canadians being diagnosed with complex chronic conditions—such as cancer, high blood pressure, or heart disease.

Patients with these complex conditions would benefit more from a consistent management of care from a family physician, rather than going directly to the hospital ER, which contributes to the significant wait times, according to Spencer.

“It’s important to keep patients with complex chronic conditions outside of the emergency room, which is where they end up going when they can’t access their family doctor,” said Spencer.

Spencer also states that extending family clinic after-hours would encourage patients to contact their family doctor first instead of going to emergency rooms.

Click below to listen to the full interview with Christina Spencer.


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