Waiting for treatment has become a defining characteristic of Canadian health care.
Specialist physicians surveyed report a median waiting time of 20.9 weeks between referral from a general practitioner and receipt of treatment—longer than the wait of 19.8 weeks reported in 2018.
Patients wait longest between a GP referral and orthopaedic surgery (39.1 weeks), while those waiting for medical oncology begin treatment in 4.4 weeks.
From referral by a general practitioner to consultation with a specialist. The waiting time in this segment increased from 8.7 weeks in 2018 to 10.1 weeks in 2019. This wait time is 173% longer than in 1993, when it was 3.7 weeks.
From the consultation with a specialist to the point at which the patient receives treatment. This wait time is 92% longer than in 1993 when it was 5.6 weeks, and about three and one-half weeks longer than what physicians consider to be clinically “reasonable” (7.2 weeks).
It is estimated that, across the 10 provinces, the total number of procedures for which people are waiting in 2019 is 1,062,286. This means that, assuming that each person waits for only one procedure, 2.9% of Canadians are waiting for treatment in 2019.
This year, Canadians could expect to wait 4.8 weeks for a computed tomography (CT) scan, 9.3 weeks for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, and 3.4 weeks for an ultrasound.