Canadian Health Care Wait Times More Than Double In 25 Years, Report Finds

REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
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Canadian health care wait times are worsening every year, according to a study released Thursday from the Fraser Institute.

The conservative think-tank has been issuing an annual report card on how long it takes from referral to operation since 1993. At the start, the median time was 9.3 hours; in 2017, it’s 21.2 hours.

Canadian socialized medicine is lauded as a model by U.S. proponents of universal medicare, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who recently visited Canadian hospitals and praised the “innovative” health care system he said he observed there.

The Fraser Institute talked to specialist physicians to see how long it takes for a patient to receive sometimes basic but nonetheless urgent medical care.

“Long wait times are not a trivial matter — they can increase suffering for patients, decrease quality of life and, in the worst cases, lead to disability or death,” Bacchus Barua said in a news release.

“Excessively long wait times remain a defining characteristic of Canada’s health care system,” continued Barua, associate director of health policy studies at the institute and the author of “Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada.”

Barua told CTV News, “The simple answer of why these wait times have increased and why nothing’s really changed is because we haven’t seen any significant shift in policy to address the situation.”

Barua told the network that he believes that Canada, among countries offering socialized medicine, is the least effective in coping with escalating wait-times because it refuses to enlist the assistance of private health care for fear of eroding public health care.

He noted that even if a wait time does not result in death or a worsened health condition, patients may not be able to work while they wait for an operation, resulting in financial difficulties.

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