The Worst Emergency Room Wait Times in Canada

Here are the provinces that suffer from the longest emergency room wait times in Canada and what you, as a patient, can do to wait for less.

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worst emergency room wait times
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We The Patients

We Canadians may be notoriously polite, but as emergency room patients, our patience is running out…at least it should be. Medical wait times are at an all-time high and, no, universal healthcare isn't the culprit. In fact, a 2016-2017 study by the Canadian Institute of Health Information and the Commonwealth Fund compared ER wait times in 11 countries with access to universal healthcare—Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States—and revealed that Canada didn't just rank low, it was literally the worst.

Nearly 30 percent of patients coast to coast wait more than four hours—four hours!!!—to see a doctor in the ER. Of course, the holding periods depend on the severity of your emergency, but they also vary from province to province. How long are you likely to wait according to where you reside? Here's where the wait times are the worst. (Find out if the answer to Canada's healthcare issues could be more operating rooms.)

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5th Worst: New Brunswick

Likelihood of waiting 4+ hours for care: 28.1%
Scary Story: While waiting 8 hours to see a doctor isn't atypical here, this March a woman who waited 11 hours in excruciating pain with what she thought was a hernia was seen by doctors too late, and passed away the following morning.

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worst emergency room wait times
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4th Worst: Prince Edward Island

Likelihood of waiting 4+ hours for care: 28.2%

Scary story: This May, 18 Fredericton ER doctors, supported by physician assistants, spoke out about the scary state of affairs: People lined up in hallways, 20-hour wait times, and as for the most urgent emergencies, it's an average of two hours till they're in triage.