Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

In Depth

Health care

Waiting for access

Last Updated Nov. 29, 2006

MRI at a public hospital in Calgary (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Long waits for diagnostic tests, access to specialists and some surgeries have long been at the heart of complaints about the failings of Canada's health-care system. Fix that, Roy Romanow concluded in his $15-million report, and Ottawa will go a long way towards satisfying Canadians' concerns about medicare.

Waiting times have made it to the top of the political agenda since the former Saskatchewan premier made his recommendations in the 2002 report on the future of health care. Since then, the federal government has put $5.5 billion into funding to address the problem. Provinces, meanwhile, have been coming up with their own plans and are working toward meeting national standards.

More recently, the Harper government laid out its wait-times guarantee as one of the five key priorities that it wants to usher in during its mandate.

In his report on how to fix medicare, Senator Michael Kirby recommended that the government should pay for out-of-province or out-of-country treatment for patients who don't receive timely care.

Romanow, on the other hand, figured the problem could be handled with a little cash and some organization, and one of his key recommendations was that the provinces should manage wait lists, and set benchmarks and provide patients with wait times they can expect.

Wait times guarantee

It appears that Ottawa and the provinces have heard the advice of both men. The federal government is working at implementing a wait-times guarantee that would be in place by 2008. Health Minister Tony Clement said in August 2006 that patients should expect to receive treatment for procedures within an acceptable time. If this does not happen, he said, the patient would be able to seek "recourse."

So if a patient couldn�t get treatment for, say, a hip-fracture treatment, the recourse would allow the patient to go to "another provider, another facility or another jurisdiction," paid with public funds, to get that treatment. "Recourse should be fair and equitable for all patients," Clement said. This brings to the fore the issue of whether public money will fund treatment at private clinics.

The groundwork for the government to move forward on wait times was set by a health accord signed by the provinces and Ottawa in 2004. It brought an extra $5.5 billion in funding to reduce wait times. Most of that money, $4.5 billion, has already been allocated.

And in that time, many of the provinces have moved to manage wait time, and all of them have agreed to set maximum acceptable wait times for key procedures, which they announced in December 2005.

The national benchmark for these procedures:

  • Radiation therapy to treat cancer within four weeks of patients being ready to treat.
  • Hip fracture treatment within 48 hours.
  • Hip replacements within 26 weeks.
  • Knee replacements within 26 weeks.
  • Surgery to remove cataracts within 16 weeks for patients who are at high risk.
  • Breast cancer screening for women ages 50 to 69 every two years.
  • Cervical cancer screening for women 18 to 69 every three years after two normal tests.
  • Cardiac bypass patients will get treatment within two weeks to 26 weeks, depending on the severity of the case.

The Wait Times Alliance, created in 2004 to provide governments with advice from the physicians' perspective, put out an interim report card in November 2006 on the progress made. It said governments have reduced the wait to be treated for cancer and other priority health problems. Governments were given a grade of A for funding, but an "incomplete" mark for making meaningful reductions in wait times.

Each province was to come up with its own strategy on how it would improve access. Many of them have wait-times information on websites, including B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Go to the Top

Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

World »

Live 'There are voices under the rubble': At least 73 dead in central Italy earthquake video
A strong earthquake in central Italy reduced three towns to rubble as people slept early Wednesday. At least 73 people were killed and hundreds injured as rescue crews raced to dig out survivors.
Breaking Militants attack American University in Kabul, Afghanistan
The president of the American University in Kabul, Afghanistan, says a militant attack is underway on the campus.
Updated At least 3 dead after 6.8 magnitude quake hits Burma
A 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit central Burma on Wednesday, damaging temples and killing at least three people.
more »

Canada »

'I've never experienced anything like this,' De Grasse says, coming home from Rio video
Andre De Grasse arrived home Wednesday after his outstanding Olympic debut in Rio, saying he's happy to be home and grateful for the support from fans.
Analysis Limiting access for news photographers a 'worrisome' trend
The Tragically Hip concert promoters barred news photographers from covering the event, instead providing their own images. It's part of a troubling trend, some say, particularly with political leaders trying to control their image.
Updated Richard Bain's guilty verdict 'doesn't take away the pain' for survivor Dave Courage video
Dave Courage survived the midnight shooting outside Montreal's Metropolis concert hall, but his friend did not. Ever since that night he's been waiting for an answer, and now he finally has one.
more »

Politics »

Economy, middle-class, bonding on the agenda as Liberal MPs prepare for fall
Liberal MPs arrive in Saguenay, Que., today for a caucus retreat where they will prepare for a year of tough choices as the not-so-fledgling government figures out how to make good on its long list of promises.
Analysis Limiting access for news photographers a 'worrisome' trend
The Tragically Hip concert promoters barred news photographers from covering the event, instead providing their own images. It's part of a troubling trend, some say, particularly with political leaders trying to control their image.
Analysis How you could make cash on a Donald Trump victory: Don Pittis
Making a real-money investment in Donald Trump is literally possible as poll numbers change and other investors use election markets as a prediction tool.
more »

Health »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Arts & Entertainment»

Peter Doig 'absolutely did not paint' landscape owned by Canadian, rules U.S. judge
A painting at the centre of a strange multimillion-dollar civil lawsuit filed by a former Canadian correctional officer who owns the canvas was definitely not the work of famed artist Peter Doig, a Chicago judge ruled Tuesday.
#SoGoneChallenge boosts Monica's 13-year-old hit song
R&B singer Monica says she's happy to see her 13-year-old hit So Gone trend heavily on social media, spike in sales and streams, and find a new audience with younger kids.
Steven Hill, who played Law & Order's Adam Schiff, dead at 94
Steven Hill, a versatile character actor in theater, films and television who achieved his greatest success late in life as grumpy District Attorney Adam Schiff on TV's long-running "Law & Order," died Tuesday. He was 94.
more »

Technology & Science »

New Average human's ecological impact on the planet shrinking, study suggests audio
A new study has some hopeful news about our future — the average human's impact or ecological "footprint" on natural habitats around the world is declining.
World's largest aircraft damaged in test flight crash landing
The world's longest aircraft, the Airlander 10 airship, has crash-landed after a test flight in Bedfordshire, central England, its British manufacturer Hybrid Air Vehicles said on Wednesday.
Q&A Everyone lies on the internet, according to new research
The internet is a web of lies. That's according to new research looking at online honesty, which found that "online deception is the rule, not the exception."
more »

Money »

Investel sues Snapchat alleging geofiltering patent infringement
A Vancouver-based technology firm is suing Snapchat, alleging that the social media company is infringing on their "geofencing" patents, which allow the service to monitor the physical locations of its users.
Royal Bank hikes dividend to 83 cents as profit rises 17%
Royal Bank of Canada had $2.895 billion of net income in its third quarter, up 17 per cent from a year ago — in part because of the sale of an insurance business.
Analysis How you could make cash on a Donald Trump victory: Don Pittis
Making a real-money investment in Donald Trump is literally possible as poll numbers change and other investors use election markets as a prediction tool.
more »

Consumer Life »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Sports »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
U.S. swimmer admits to 'omitting facts' in Rio gas station altercation
U.S. swimmer James Feigen apologized for the "serious distraction" he and three teammates caused at a gas station during the Rio Olympics, saying he omitted facts in his statement to police.
'I've never experienced anything like this,' De Grasse says, coming home from Rio video
Andre De Grasse arrived home Wednesday after his outstanding Olympic debut in Rio, saying he's happy to be home and grateful for the support from fans.
Analysis What you missed in the CFL during the Olympics
While you were watching 2,000 hours of Olympic coverage on seven different platforms, the Canadian Football League almost had a nervous breakdown. Here’s a quick guide.
more »

Diversions »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
more »