Wait times are many Canadians’ top complaint about the health care system, but a Health Council of Canada report released Tuesday says wait times are now a health care “success story.”
“We’ve made progress on wait times because governments have made targets, publicized them and provided the funding to tackle them,” said Dr. Jack Kitts, chair of the Health Council of Canada, at a press conference at the Chateau Laurier.
The report outlines how health care has improved—or not—across the country, specifically in the areas of wait times, pharmaceuticals, electronic health records, teletriage and innovation.
It comes about seven years after the federal and provincial governments signed health accords on a ten-year-plan to renew and strengthen health care for a generation, including a $5.5 billion fund to reduce wait times.
The report found that, today, eight out of ten Canadians are treated within “pan-Canadian benchmarks” for select procedures: cancer surgery, cardiac bypass surgery, hip and knee replacements and cataract surgeries.
However, hearing that didn’t comfort Ottawa resident Marc Lowell, who said he spent 10 hours waiting at the Monfort Hospital with chest pains on Saturday night.
“It’s the longest wait I’ve ever been through at a hospital,” he said. “I was in a lot of pain.”
Lowell said he was worried he was having heart problems, but the triage nurses knew his case was not critical, which is why he had to wait so long.
As for the other areas of health care studied in the report—pharmaceuticals, electronic health records, teletriage and innovation—can be improved on if the provinces improve their cooperation, said Kitts.
“For pretty much everything in the accord, if we’re really going to take pride in our national system, I think the provinces need to work together,” he said.