News Column

The Fraser Institute: Surgical Delays Cost Canadians Nearly $1 Billion in Lost Time in 2012

Jul 18 2013 12:00AM



CALGARY, ALBERTA -- (Marketwired) -- 07/18/13 -- Long waits for surgery and medical treatment in 2012 cost Canadians more than $982 million in lost time and productivity, concludes a new report from the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

The study, The Private Cost of Public Queues for Medically Necessary Care, calculates that the average value of time lost during the work week was $1,129 for each of the estimated 870,462 patients waiting for surgery last year.

When hours outside the work week are factored in, including evenings and weekends (less eight hours of sleep per night), the estimated cost of waiting vaults to about $3,447 per patient - more than $3 billion in total.

"Canadians face some of the longest waits for health care in the developed world. This creates unnecessary pain and suffering for patients and their families and reduces their ability to participate fully in their lives," said Nadeem Esmail, Fraser Institute director of health policy studies and author of the study.

Using data from the Fraser Institute's annual survey of health care wait times (which found that Canadians waited 9.3 weeks, on average, from an appointment with a specialist to receiving treatment in 2012), the report estimates that patients across Canada waited a combined 10.6 million weeks for treatment last year.

The study notes the true private cost of waiting for Canadian health care in 2012 was likely higher than $982 million, or more than the $3 billion estimate when hours outside the work week are included. These estimates only consider costs borne by the individual waiting for treatment. Neither estimate includes the costs of care provided by family members (i.e. time spent caring for the individual waiting for treatment) and their lost productivity due to worry. Medical costs such as increased risk of mortality or adverse events resulting from long delays for treatment are also not included. In addition, the estimates consider only waits from specialist to treatment and do not capture the private cost of waiting for either diagnostic tests or for an appointment with a specialist.

"Protracted waits for health care deprive Canadians of wages, productivity, and enjoyment of life," Esmail said.

"Canada should embrace sensible health policy reforms based on the successes of countries like Switzerland, Japan, and the Netherlands, all of which provide high-quality, and prompt health care regardless of patients' ability to pay."

Follow the Fraser Institute on Twitter and Facebook

The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global network of 86 think-tanks. Its mission is to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of individuals. To protect the Institute's independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit

Add to Digg Bookmark with Add to Newsvine

Nadeem Esmail
Director of Health Policy Studies, Fraser Institute
(403) 216-7175 ext. 422
Twitter: @NadeemEsmail

Kendal Egli
Communications Specialist, Fraser Institute
(416) 363-6575 ext. 235

Source: Marketwire

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters