Waiting Times in Health Care

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Introduction
Since 1947, Canada has taken pride in its publicly funded, universal health care system and has successfully provided exceptional health care to all Canadian citizens. Founded by Tommy Douglas, the Medicare system, eventually leading to the Canadian Health Act of 1984, paved the way for today’s health care system in Canada (Bryant, 2010). Boasting free health care coverage to every Canadian, the Canadian Health Act promises more than it can realistically live up to. As times continue to change, pressures to do more plague the Canadian health care system in spite of slower rates of advancement and expansion in resources. Diminishing access to care, increased numbers of patients, and intolerable wait times are some examples of issues that have been of high concern to the government and general public. For years, tedious waiting times have become a deepening rift in Canada’s health care system. A waiting list commonly refers to a roster of people in need of medical attention who are pending a specific service. In theory, they are present when the demand for specific medical attention exceeds the instantly available supply (Mcdonald et al, 1998). With minor exceptions, Canadian waiting lists, like most countries, are non-regulated, generally unsupervised, and in dire need of reform. Specialized treatments, surgeries and many other procedures that do not fall under the category of “medically necessary” are commonly pushed to the side while cases that require immediate attention take precedence (Bryant, 2010). ¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬What follows is a discussion of the shortcomings of the current Canadian Healthcare system. These issues continue to emerge as a major blemish in the Canadian system. Namely, a lack of doctors, uneven distribution of health care practitioners between and within provinces, and the non-standardization of wait lists have had significant impacts on Canadian wait times, ultimately risking adaptation to a private health care system. By standardizing wait lists, managing them efficiently and increasing resources and funding, Canada will pave the way for a better future in health care infrastructure.

Importance of Wait Lists in Canada
In a country where health care is predominately funded by the public, wait lists are an essential component. If Canada employed a system where there was no such thing as wait lists, many doctors, facilities, and equipment would be inoperative for long times due to the fact that the new system would face “peak load” demands (Barer and Lewis, 2000). Disregarding the immense costs necessary to fund this system, we would also prevent the doctors and buildings invested in this type of system from benefitting from the health care system in other, more productive ways. If properly created, monitored and coordinated wait lists can serve as very useful tools in managing Canadian Health Care. They serve as mediums to get patients to appropriate resources, organized by their degree of urgency/priority. In addition, they give patients time for second-thought, and ensure that people, equipment and facilities are used efficiently (Barer and Lewis, 2000).

Unequal Distribution of Physicians and Nurses within Canada
Although Health Care in Canada is universal, it is often not the cost of the procedure that hinders a person from seeking care, but difficulty to access. Despite given the ability to afford health care, availability of health care is not always guaranteed. Often, doctor’s are based in more urban areas of the country, causing accessibility problems for those residing in rural areas or areas with a very low population density (Bryant, 2010). Health care dollars are distributed according to provincial demographics, which means that rural areas often receive less funding than densely populated metropolitan areas. Critics complain that as a result, rural health facilities are improved at a slower rate, and that the lack of dollars in the rural areas results in a...
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