Walk-in wait times across Canada: Ranking the provinces
If you’ve ever waited hours to see a doctor, you’re not alone–especially if you live in Nova Scotia. New data from website Medimap has revealed that the maritime province has the longest walk-in clinic wait times in Canada, with patients waiting an average of 69 minutes to see a health-care professional.
British Columbia takes second place, with a 50-minute average–exactly double the average wait time in Ontario. B.C. is also the home of seven of the ten cities with the longest wait times in the country, the worst of which is Sidney, with an average wait time of three hours. Alberta, on the other hand, has the shortest wait times, with patients waiting just 23 minutes on average to see a same-day doctor.
The data comes from Medimap, a website and mobile app that monitors the wait times at walk-in clinics across the country. Using data provided by clinics between November 1, 2018 and October 31, 2019, Medimap calculated the average wait times in six provinces. The site doesn’t operate in Quebec, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, P.E.I., or the territories.
Walk-in clinics first became common in Canada in the ’80s as an alternative to emergency rooms, particularly for people without a family doctor. According to Stats Canada, in 2017, 15.3 per cent of Canadians over the age of 12 didn’t have a regular health care provider, meaning that many Canadians rely exclusively on walk-in clinics for their health care needs.
Not surprisingly, then, clinics often fill up quickly. Many have patient caps and have to turn people away–some Canadians have reported trying multiple clinics in the same day and still not finding care. A 2017 analysis by the Commonwealth Fund found that only 43 per cent of patients in Canada were able to book same-day appointments for health care, putting Canada in a tie for last place when compared to nine other OECD countries.
That’s where sites like Medimap come in, with the goal of connecting patients with walk-in clinics that are close by and under capacity. “People want convenience,” explains founder Blake Adam. “We created Medimap as a simple solution that saves time and frustration for these people when they need access to care.”
Since the website’s launch in 2015, more than 900 clinics have registered with Medimap, reporting their current wait-times every half hour in order to ensure up-to-date information on the site. Other sites, like Skip the Waiting Room and, in Quebec, Bonjour Santé, book next-day appointments for patients, sometimes for a fee. “If every Canadian is empowered with information,” Adam says, “we will have fewer people using our emergency rooms unnecessarily and a healthier society.”
Next, find out which health symptoms you should never ignore.