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Three Atlantic provinces have longest medical wait times in the country

- Reuters

Newfoundland and Labrador among shortest

Three out of four Atlantic provinces have the highest medical wait times in the country, according to a new study by the Fraser Institute, while Newfoundland and Labrador has the third shortest.

P.E.I.’s wait times for medically necessary treatment grew from a median of 38.9 weeks in 2018 to 49.3 weeks this year, the highest, by far, in Canada. New Brunswick saw a slight decrease in wait times from 45.1 to 39.7 weeks, but still has the second-longest wait times.

Nova Scotia also saw a slight decrease, 34.4 to 33.3, but sits at the third-worst. Newfoundland and Labrador, while looking at an increase from a median of 22 to 23.4 weeks, has one of the shortest wait periods, behind only Ontario and Quebec.

The study notes that the number of survey responses in Atlantic Canada were lower than other provinces, which may result in reported median wait times being higher or lower than those actually experienced.

Across Canada, the median wait time for medically necessary treatment this year was 20.9 weeks, the second-longest wait ever recorded by the Fraser Institute, which has been measuring wait times across Canada since 1993 when patients waited just 9.3 weeks.

According to a news release, the study examines the total wait time patients face across 12 medical specialities, from referral by a general practitioner to consultation with a specialist, to when the patient ultimately receives treatment.

Nationally, wait times were longest for orthopedic surgery (39.1 weeks) and plastic surgery (28.7 weeks) and the shortest for medical oncology (4.4 weeks).

“Long wait times for medically necessary treatments increase suffering for patients, decrease quality of life, and in the worst cases, lead to disability or death,” Bacchus Barua, associate director of health policy studies at the Fraser Institute and co-author of Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada, 2019 said in an emailed statement. 

“Patients continue to wait for more than four months for medically necessary treatment — a fact that should concern not just patients and their families but also policymakers in Ottawa and across the country.”

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