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Canadian patients waited longer than ever in 2021 for medical treatment, according to a new study released by the Fraser Institute.

The annual study reports a median wait time of 25.6 weeks—the longest ever recorded. It examines the total wait time faced by patients across 12 medical specialties from referral by a general practitioner (family doctor) to consultation with a specialist, to when the patient ultimately receives treatment.

The longest wait times were experienced by those seeking neurosurgery or orthopedic surgery, such as a hip or knee replacement. Patients in those categories can end up waiting 49.2 weeks and 46.1 weeks, respectively.

Waiting for treatment has become a defining characteristic of Canada’s government-run health care system. Long wait times can result in increased suffering for patients, lost productivity at work, a decreased quality of life, and in the worst cases, disability or death.

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