Health care in Canada: Have you considered leaving the country?

Long wait times have become the status quo in Canada’s health-care system, forcing some Canadians to travel outside of the country for faster medical surgeries and procedures.

Last year’s wait times for medically necessary surgeries and procedures were the longest ever recorded by the right-wing think tank Fraser Institute, which published a report suggesting a 195 per cent increase from 1993.

Twenty years ago, the institute said, the average wait time for a surgery or medical procedure was 9.3 weeks. Now, Canadians have to wait a median of 27.4 weeks between the referral from a general practitioner and receipt of treatment, according to the report.

While each specialty is different, the numbers are still shocking. The report states patients have to wait around 58.9 weeks for a GP referral and neurosurgical procedures. Some waits are shorter, such as those faced by people waiting for radiation treatment who typically are treated after 3.9 weeks.

Average wait times for surgeries and other procedures also vary across provinces, with Ontario reporting the shortest, at 20.3 weeks, and Prince Edward Island with the longest, at 64.7 weeks.

The situation is bad enough that some provincial governments have been using different solutions to reduce wait times for patients. For example, B.C. announced it will be sending some cancer patients to the U.S. for radiation treatment.

Amid increasingly long wait times in hospital emergency rooms and other health-care facilities, some Canadians are finding other ways to get the help they need. University student Christos Lianos, for example, recently travelled from Quebec to Ontario for an emergency surgery after waiting 15 hours in an emergency room.

If you recently left your province of residence or travelled abroad for a surgery or medical procedure due to long wait times in Canada, wants to hear from you.

Where have you travelled to receive your surgery or medical treatment? What health-care services did you require? How long would you have had to wait in Canada if you decided to stay? Are you doing anything else to try to cope with the long wait times in Canada’s health-care system?

Share your questions by emailing us at [email protected] with your name, general location and phone number in case we want to follow up. Your comments may be used in a story. 


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