December 13, 2017

Saskatchewan Among Shortest Wait Times, Says Survey

The latest annual Fraser Institute survey of doctors suggests Saskatchewan patients are receiving elective health services sooner than patients in most other provinces.

The national think tank’s results, issued December 7, rank Saskatchewan as having the second-shortest waits in Canada for patients seeking medically-necessary elective treatment, when the time waiting to see a specialist and the time waiting for treatment are combined.

This year’s survey estimates that half of Saskatchewan patients waited 19.8 weeks or less.

“Our government is proud of the successes the health system has achieved in improving access to surgery,” Health Minister Jim Reiter said.  “Further work is ongoing to reduce wait times for medical imaging and for appointments with a specialist.”

The Fraser Institute survey, based on estimates from physicians across the country, shows Saskatchewan tied for first in the country for wait times for CT scans and ultrasounds.  While the survey ranked Saskatchewan fifth for MRI wait times, the capacity for MRI services in Saskatchewan has more than doubled in the past decade to meet demand.  CT capacity is also up 48 per cent.

The Ministry of Health has worked with physicians and patients to develop innovative approaches for reducing the amount of time patients wait from referral to seeing a specialist.  Physician groups that have adopted the new referral model have seen significant reductions in their wait times and an increase in the level of patient and physician satisfaction.  The number of specialists in Saskatchewan increased 18 per cent from March 2014 to March 2017.

Based on the Fraser Institute’s survey results, the report estimates that Saskatchewan’s wait times for psychiatric services are the fourth-shortest in Canada, with half of patients seeing a psychiatrist within 19.2 weeks of being referred by a physician.

Provincial government spending on mental health and addictions services increased 44 per cent from 2007-08 to 2016-17.

See the full report, Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada, 2017 Report at