Maritime provinces have longest wait times for medical treatment: report
A new report by the Fraser Institute suggests wait times for medical treatment are rising across the country, with the Maritimes leading the way.
On average, it takes 38.8 weeks from referral to treatment in New Brunswick – the longest wait in Canada. Nova Scotia is close behind at 34.8 weeks, while Prince Edward Island is third at 31.4 weeks. The national average is just 20 weeks.
For orthopedic surgery, the median wait is 61.2 weeks in New Brunswick and 75.3 weeks in Nova Scotia.
Nova Scotia resident Gloria Boudreau has been waiting for a hip replacement surgery since March of 2015. That's more than 80 weeks.
“It impacts every bit of your life,” said Boudreau. “I worry about taking all these things to deal with the pain to get through another day as I wait.”
The McNeil government was elected in 2013 on a promise to reduce surgical wait times. Health Minister Leo Glavine says he's not surprised the numbers are going up and not down, but says government is working on it.
“We knew we had a steep hill to climb in order to reduce wait times,” Glavine said.
Opposition Leader Jamie Baillie says the figures show the system has reached a “crisis level.”
“These are not just numbers,” said Baillie. “These are real people's lives,”
New Brunswick Health Minister Victor Boudreau says the aging population is having a big impact on wait times.
“We're going to have more and more pressure on the system, so it's a matter of building up capacity,” said Boudreau.
Both ministers point out the Fraser Institute report is based on survey results. Minister Glavine says the Canadian Institute for Health Research will provide more reliable figures.
Minister Glavine says the move to one provincial health authority will help reduce wait times, as residents will be able to travel outside Halifax for surgeries.
But for people like Gloria Boudreau, the statistics matter very little. Her surgeon in Halifax is currently treating people who got on the wait list in 2014.
She’s willing to travel and has been on another surgeon's list for several months, but there’s been no word on when she can get in.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Sarah Ritchie.