Canada has some of the longest wait times to see doctors, specialists: report

Click to play video: 'Canadians are waiting longer for care than other countries'
Canadians are waiting longer for care than other countries
WATCH: Canadians are waiting longer for care than other countries. Allison Vuchnich reports – Feb 16, 2017

How long are you waiting to see your family doctor, a specialist or a front line expert at the emergency room? Turns out, Canadians are reporting some of the longest wait times for medical help compared to 11 other countries.

But once we’re cared for, we’re a satisfied group – Canadians are generally happy with the quality of the health care they receive compared to the international rankings, according to a new Canadian Institutes for Health Information (CIHI) report released Thursday morning.

“While Canadians might think we have the best health-care system in the world, international comparisons help to provide important perspective,” Tracy Johnson, director of CIHI’s health system analysis and emerging issues, said.

READ MORE: How long are medical wait times in Canada by province and procedure?

Canada’s wait times were compared to other countries, such as the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and France.

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Here are some of the findings from the report:

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Want a doctor’s appointment? You’ll have to wait: Only 43 per cent of Canadians are able to snag same- or next-day appointments at their regular place of care, such as their doctor’s office. About 20 per cent of Canadians end up waiting about seven days. Ninety-three per cent of us have a doctor we go to when we’re feeling sick, though.

Canadians visit the emergency department more than other countries – and we wait longer, too: It takes about four hours of waiting to see a doctor when you’re at the emergency department. More than 40 per cent of Canadians said the last time they went to the emergency room, it was to treat something that their family doctor could have helped with if they were available. These issues ranged from throat inflammation, ear infections, to needing antibiotics.

READ MORE: Medical wait times in Canada longer than ever at 20 weeks in 2016

We also wait the longest for specialists: About 56 per cent of Canadians said it took longer than four weeks to see a specialist. The international average was about 36 per cent for a month-long wait time. We have the longest wait times for surgery, too.

Can we afford our health care? For the most part, we can: Only one in 10 Canadians say they didn’t fill a prescription or skipped a dose because of cost. When it comes to dental care, 28 per cent of Canadians said they had to skip the dentist’s office because they simply couldn’t pay for it. Internationally, only one in five people can’t afford dental work.

READ MORE: Here’s how long Canadians are waiting for surgery across the country

We like the health care we receive, too: Despite lengthy wait times, Canadians are happy with the quality of care they’re getting from their doctors. Seventy-four per cent rated the care they received as “very good” or “excellent,” which is much higher than the international average.

Read the full CIHI report.

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