The report said preliminary data suggest that an estimated 1.2 million patients waited for medically necessary treatment last year, and each lost an estimated $2,925 (on average) due to lost wages and reduced productivity during working hours.

Bacchus Barua

“Waiting for medically necessary treatment remains a hallmark of the Canadian health-care system, and in addition to increased pain and suffering—and potentially worse medical outcomes—these long waits also cost Canadians time at work and with family and friends,” said Bacchus Barua, director of health policy studies at the Fraser Institute and co-author of The Private Cost of Public Queues for Medically Necessary Care, 2023.

The Fraser Institute said the study draws upon data from its annual Waiting Your Turn survey of Canadian physicians who, in 2022, reported the national median waiting time from specialist appointment to treatment was 14.8 weeks.

It said the $3.6 billion in lost wages is likely a conservative estimate because it doesn’t account for the additional 12.6-week wait to see a specialist after receiving a referral from a general practitioner.

Taken together (12.6 and 14.8 weeks), the total median wait time in Canada for medical treatment was 27.4 weeks in 2022—the longest in the survey’s history, it added

Mackenzie Moir

“As long as lengthy wait times define Canada’s health-care system, patients will continue to pay a price in lost wages and reduced quality of life,” said Mackenzie Moir, Fraser Institute policy analyst and study co-author.

Because wait times and incomes vary by province, so does the cost of waiting for health care. Residents of Manitoba in 2022 faced the highest per-patient cost of waiting ($4,463), followed by Nova Scotia ($4,230) and New Brunswick ($3,691), said the report.

Average value of time lost during the work week in 2022 for patients waiting for medically necessary treatment (by province):


British Columbia$2,363
New Brunswick$3,691
Nova Scotia$4,230
Prince Edward Island$3,348
Newfoundland and Labrador$3,536

Mario Toneguzzi

(Mario Toneguzzi is Managing Editor of Canada’s Podcast. He has more than 40 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald, covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He works as well as a freelance writer for several national publications and as a consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named in 2021 as one of the Top 10 Business Journalists in the World by PR News – the only Canadian to make the list)