Canadians make almost 16 million visits to emergency departments each year, but patients know very little about the wait they may face at their local hospital.

For the first time ever, many Canadians can now find out how their hospital fares in its wait times to see an emergency room physician for the initial assessment.

The data released Thursday by the Canadian Institute for Health Information covers 161 hospitals – less than one-third of the country’s hospitals but covering 60 per cent of patients. Seven provinces and one territory are represented in the data. Only Alberta and Ontario have all hospitals reporting data to CIHI.

The measure of time shown is 90th percentile. That means nine in 10 patients spent less than that time, while the tenth patient spent longer.

Canadian Institute for Health Information