About Us

Why do we settle for long waits for medical care in Canada?

Image of empty waiting roomWe know that long waits cause patients undue stress and can lead to their condition worsening. We also know that it has significant economic impacts.

Yet, other countries are able to offer timely access to care, sometimes having no unnecessary waits at all. These countries, mostly in Europe, perform better than Canada in terms of quality of care, and the overall cost of the system.


Canadian governments realize this is an ongoing problem.

Doctors formed the Wait Time Alliance in 2004. That same year, Canadian governments committed to reducing wait times. Since then, Wait Time Alliance physicians have been developing benchmarks and targets to identify the longest medically-acceptable amount of time that a patient should wait before receiving treatment.

View List of Members and Partners

While governments initially focused on only five areas of elective care (cancer care, cardiac care, joint replacement, diagnostic imaging and sight restoration), the Wait Time Alliance knows that patients face long wait times in many more. That is why we have created benchmarks for 16 medical specialties, which encompass close to 1000 treatments, procedures and diagnoses. The Wait Time Alliance also reports each year on how governments are doing at meeting their own benchmarks.

More work is needed to ensure that Canadians will receive the timely care they deserve. Health care providers and governments alike must take responsibility for improving the system, which starts with knowing how we are performing. The Wait Time Alliance aims to bridge the gap, bringing together physicians to work collaboratively to address wait times, and working with governments to improve wait time measurement and reporting.

Mission Statement: WTA physicians are concerned over delayed access to health care for Canadians. We work collaboratively with our stakeholders to inform, advocate, and provide solutions to achieve timely, appropriate and equitable access to high-quality health care.