Maritimes have longest wait times in Canada: report
HAMMOND PLAINS, N.S. -- Vancouver-based think tank the Fraser Institute has been doing a wait-times report based on survey responses from health-care practitioners since 1993.
Patient Connie Comeau isn't surprised to hear the Fraser Institute survey puts the Maritime provinces at the end of the pack when it comes to health-care wait times.
"It started a year ago June, so June 2018," said Comeau.
The Nova Scotia woman has suffered pain stemming from her neck for years and has waited more than a year -- and counting -- for surgery.
"Now, it's just a waiting game to get in for that, he told me that it would probably be after Christmas," Comeau said.
According to the report, the Maritime provinces have the longest wait times for medically necessary treatments -- everything from orthopedic surgery to medical oncology.
Prince Edward Island has the longest, at more than 49 weeks. New Brunswick is next, at over 39 weeks, and Nova Scotia is at 33. The national average is almost 21 weeks.
"These are the second-longest wait times we've ever seen in Canada," said Bacchus Barrua of the Fraser Institute. "Whenever we look at data compared to other countries with universal health care, Canada has among the longest wait times in the developed world."
There are some positives. New Brunswick and Nova Scotia both saw a decrease in time spent waiting to see a specialist compared to last year -- but still worse than the rest of the country.
"It speaks to the problem of access and why we all want to have a situation where every person has a family doctor who can quarterback if you will, (assess) the need for further testing for further assessments by specialists and the like," said Dr. Gary Ernest, the president of Doctors Nova Scotia.
The report says the length of time patients wait to receive treatment, after consulting a specialist did decrease in Nova Scotia this year, but remains the longest in the country except for P.E.I. and New Brunswick.
“We foresee wait times increasing over the next several years, again because of our aging demographic," said Dr. Chris Goodyear, president of the New Brunswick Medical Society. "I’ve said this before, New Brunswick is the canary in the coal mine when it comes to Canadian healthcare."
When it comes to solutions, the Fraser institute believes the federal government should follow the example of other countries with universal health care and partner with private providers -- or require a co-payment or deductible from patients.
All Connie Comeau knows is that the wait so far has been too long for a painful condition that's affecting her quality of life.
"Everything, unfortunately, takes too long around here," Comeau said.
Some have questioned the Fraser Institute's methodology for the report, which relies on responses to a survey mailed out to medical practitioners. It gets a 17 per cent response rate nationally.
The institute insists that doesn't affect the overall trend -- an increase in wait times for health care over the past several decades.