Reducing Wait Times For Health Care

  • Access to a wait list is not access to care.
  • Where government fails to deliver essential services, people have rights to procure their own services.
  • At any given time there are 28,000 people in BC in this position

Waiting times for orthopedic surgery (joints), ophthalmology (eyes), and otolaryngology (ears, nose, throat) are particularly unreasonable even according to a majority of surgeons themselves.  Waiting times in emergency rooms are also beyond reasonable by any standard.  Excessive wait times in non-surgical procedures leave the patient suffering and often worsen his or her condition to the point that more costly and invasive interventions are required.  

Tax dollars have been pouring into reducing these wait times, but the needs of an aging and growing population is overwhelming any gains made.  The waits for some specific surgeries are so long that careers can be cut short and earning potential and quality of life permanently affected.  Policies of the Canadian Medical Association imply that people should have a right to prompt treatment.  We agree.

With waiting times that are on average over 30 weeks, people in need of routine surgeries are often sitting idle, not earning their full wages and creating losses for their employer who has had to suddenly do without an employee.  A multi-year absence can end a career, create an assortment of health complications related to pain management, or even lead to suicide. This constitutes a waste of human potential and violates the spirit of the Canada Health Act while diminishing the importance of patient-centred care.

This policy is currently in development. The policy team is soliciting expert and stakeholder advice in developing the best, evidence-based, healthcare plan for BC. We welcome your thoughts and input. Email the policy committee at