December 22, 2014
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Medical wait times improving, but more work necessary: Report

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Three provinces are making important progress to reduce wait times for medical care, but others continue to struggle, a new report says.

Ontario, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador were singled out in the Wait Time Alliance's annual report card, released Tuesday. The report says in a review of 2014 wait times so far, these three provinces "have or are beginning to make substantive and sustained progress to reduce wait times." Ontario continues to be a leading performer, but Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan also made big improvements, with Saskatchewan "improving substantially" over the previous year, the report says. The report card assesses each province's wait times in five areas: cancer care, coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery, diagnostic imaging procedures, joint replacements and sight restoration. They are graded using pan-Canadian benchmarks established by the provinces in 2005. "We are pleased to report forward movement in 2014 over the previous two years: 67% of all provincial grades were either 'A' or 'A+' compared with 58% in the previous year's report card," the report says. But Canadians continue to wait longer in the emergency room than citizens in other countries, the report says.

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In the survey, 27% of Canadians reported waiting more than four hours for emergency care, compared to 5% in the U.K. and 1% in the Netherlands. "Lengthy waits are not the price to pay for having a universal health care system," Chris Simpson, chairman of the WTA, said Tuesday.

Suzane Renaud, the past president of the Canadian Psychiatric Association, said in a statement she was disappointed there was no progress in releasing wait times for psychiatric care.

"This is unacceptable given the unmet need among people with mental illness and the priority that has been placed on access to mental health services," Renaid said.

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