Leaving Canada for Medical Care, 2016
In 2015, an estimated 45,619 Canadians received non-emergency medical treatment outside Canada. Physicians in British Columbia reported the highest proportion of patients (in a province) receiving treatment abroad (1.5%). The largest number of patients estimated to have left the country for treatment was from Ontario (22,352).
Across Canada, urologists reported the highest proportion of patients (in a specialty) travelling abroad for treatment (1.6%). The largest number of patients (in a specialty) also travelled abroad for urology procedures (4,974).
One explanation for patients travelling abroad to receive medical treatment may relate to the long waiting times they are forced endure in Canada’s health care system. In 2015, patients could expect to wait 9.8 weeks for medically necessary treatment after seeing a specialist—almost 3 weeks longer than the time physicians consider to be clinically “reasonable” (7.1 weeks).
Clearly, the number of Canadians who ultimately receive their medical care in other countries is not insignificant. That a considerable number of Canadians travelled abroad and paid to escape the well-known failings of the Canadian health care system speaks volumes about how well the system is working for them.