VANCOUVER — More than 52,000 Canadians left the country to seek medical care in other countries, according to a new study released on Tuesday by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.
The study, “Leaving Canada for Medical Care 2015”, estimated that 52,513 Canadians left the country to receive non-emergency medical treatment in 2014, an increase of 26 percent compared to the previous year.
“These figures are not insubstantial. They point to an increasing number of Canadians who feel their medical needs aren’t being met in Canada,” Bacchus Barua, Fraser Institute senior economist and the study’s co-author, said in a statement.
The study draws upon data from the Fraser Institute’s annual ” waiting your turn” study — a national survey of physicians across Canada in 12 major medical specialties. In the 2014 survey, physicians specializing in internal medicine procedures reported the highest number of patients leaving Canada for treatment.
While there is no definite data on why Canadians go abroad for medical care, there are several possible reasons: some patients may have been sent abroad because of a lack of available medical resources; some may have chosen to leave Canada in response to concerns about medical quality; while others might have left because of lengthy wait times.
In 2014, the average patient in Canada could expect to wait almost 10 weeks for medically necessary treatment after seeing specialist.