Fraser Institute News Release: Medical waiting time makes patients in Atlantic Canada lose more than $ 305 million in wages lost before COVID-19 | Instant News

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, May 7, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – Long awaiting surgery and medical care cost $ 305 million in lost Canadian wages and productivity last year, finding a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-non- Think partisan Canadian public policy.

And these costs can increase now that many provinces have delayed elective (or scheduled) operations as a result of COVID-19.

“Health workers in Atlantic Canada, and indeed throughout the country, must be praised for the extraordinary work they are doing to get us through this global pandemic. However, once the elective surgery continues, they can face further challenges because they overcome the growing savings of patients who are waiting for treatment, “said Bacchus Barua, associate director of health policy studies at the Fraser Institute and co-authors of the Private Queue Private Costs for Medically Needed Care, 2020.

The study found that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 122 thousand patients throughout Atlantic Canada awaited medically necessary care last year, and throughout the region, depending on the province, patients collectively lost $ 15 million to $ 134 million due lost wages and reduced productivity during working hours.

In all four Atlantic provinces, the cost of waiting for medical care is around $ 305 million.

This study uses data from Fraser Institute Waiting for your turn the study, an annual survey of Canadian doctors who, in 2019, reported average waiting times in Canada from the appointment of specialists to 10.8 weeks of treatment – three and a half weeks longer than what physicians thought was clinically reasonable.

In Atlantic Canada, waiting times from specialists to treatment ranges from 12.4 weeks in Newfoundland and Labrador to 20.5 weeks on Prince Edward Island.

In Canada, the cost of waiting for medical care is around $ 2.1 billion in 2019, and that does not include the time patients wait to see a specialist after receiving a referral from their family doctor or general practitioner.

“Before we even began to postpone the operation due to COVID-19, Atlantic Canadians were waiting a lot of time for medical treatment and operations that were needed, which meant losing wages and reducing the quality of life of patients,” Barua said.

“Now is the time to consider policy options that might benefit patients and reduce tensions in our public health service system once the COVID-19 crisis goes by itself.”

Because waiting times and incomes vary by province, so does the cost of waiting for health care. Manitoba residents in 2019 face the highest waiting costs per patient ($ 3,011), followed by P.E.I. ($ 2,856) and Alberta ($ 2,834).

Average value of time lost during the work week in 2019 for patients waiting for medically necessary treatment (by province):

British Columbia $ 1,776
Alberta $ 2,834
Saskatchewan $ 2,421
Manitoba $ 3,011
Ontario $ 1,408
Quebec $ 1,381
New Brunswick $ 2,679
Nova Scotia $ 2,386
Prince Edward Island * $ 2,856
Newfoundland and Labrador $ 2,421

*Estimates for P.E.I. must be interpreted with caution because survey data are limited

Bacchus Barua, Associate Director, Health Policy Studies
Fraser Institute

To arrange a media interview or for further information, please contact:
Drue MacPherson, Fraser Institute
Email: [email protected]

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The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and education organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal and connected to a global network of think-tanks in 87 countries. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for Canadians, their families and future generations by studying, measuring and broadly communicating the impact of government policies, entrepreneurship and choices on their well-being. To protect the independence of the Institute, the agency does not accept grants from the government or contracts for research. Visit


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