Quebec ER wait times worst in Western world

Quebec has the worst emergency room [ER] wait times in the Western world, according to a report released by Robert Salois, Quebec’s health and welfare commissioner [Canadian Press June 2, 2016].

The report found 35% of Quebec patients must wait five hours or more for care, compared to 15% in Ontario, 5% in the United States and Germany, and 2% in Switzerland; and, 1.5 million ER visits surpassed Quebec’s maximum wait time in 2015-2016, amounting to 13 million extra hours spent waiting for care.

Moreover, 10% of emergency-room patients leave the hospital without having seen a doctor, and it’s more than 30% in certain hospitals.

But, what if Quebeckers and all other Canadians had a “care guarantee” whereby they could seek necessary medical care through the private sector when the Medicare monopoly fails to meet minimum standards? With the guarantee, their provincial governments would reimburse them in whole or in part.

Provincial governments — regardless of public stripe — impose performance standards [legislation, regulations] on the private sector. They refuse, however, to demand the same of the government-funded and government-run health care system.

In a much broader context of wait times, a Fraser Institute study [April 2016]  “estimates that 894,449 Canadians waited 9.8 weeks [on average] for treatment after seeing a specialist, resulting in an average personal cost of $1,304 in lost productivity and income—which adds up to a $1.2 billion loss for the Canadian economy. Other factors increase the estimate $3.5 billion or $3,951 per patient.

Canada’s government-run health care system – Medicare -- is a monopoly that prohibits private hospital and private physician care. Medicare is a subpar performer, ranking 10th among 11 advanced countries. Canadians deserve much better! Patients deserve timely access to quality care and choice of hospitals and physicians. Taxpayers deserve much more value for their tax dollars.

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