$2 billion in wages lost waiting for medical treatment

For the first time, the estimated number of Canadians who waited for medically-necessary treatment exceeded one million in 2017: Fraser Institute

Mario ToneguzziWaiting for surgery and medical treatment can be a painful and personally frustrating experience for many Canadians.

It’s also a costly one.

A new study released on Wednesday by the Fraser Institute says long waits cost Canadians $1.9 billion in lost wages last year and for the first time, the estimated number of Canadians who waited for medically-necessary treatment exceeded one million in 2017.

“Canadians are waiting longer than ever for health care, and in addition to increased pain and suffering – and potentially worse medical outcomes – these long waits also cost Canadians time at work and with family and friends,” said Bacchus Barua, associate director of health policy studies at the Fraser Institute and co-author of The Private Cost of Public Queues for Medically Necessary Care, 2018.

The study estimated 1,040,791 patients who waited for medically necessary treatment last year each lost $1,822 on average due to work time lost.

“When including the value of time outside the traditional work week – evenings and weekends (excluding eight hours of sleep per night) – the estimated cost of waiting jumps from $1.9 billion to $5.8 billion, or $5,559 per patient,” said the think-tank.

The study said people in British Columbia had the highest per-patient cost of waiting ($2,362), followed by Alberta ($2,290) and Manitoba ($2,247).

Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald in various capacities, including 12 years as a senior business writer.


medical treatmentThe views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

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