Canada’s increasing outbound medical travel

At the end of March, Canada’s health minister, Jean-Yves Duclos, said the country’s universal health-care system is “at risk” and announced a CA$2 billion (US$1.6bn) pledge to help fix the surgery backlog.  This backlog, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, is now encouraging more Canadians to travel thousands of miles away from home to get life-changing procedures undertaken without the wait.

Backlogs on surgery in Canada can range from 15 to 36 months.

Travelling to the USA for treatment is most common for Canadians, but can be expensive. Less expensive is surgery in Mexico and European countries such as Lithuania.

Last year, Canadians faced a median waiting time of 25.6 weeks between referral from a general practitioner and receipt of the treatment, according to a report from the Fraser Institute. This is the longest wait time recorded.

The Canadian Medical Association, a strong defender of the healthcare system, has also admitted that Canadians are going overseas to seek medical treatment as the universal health-care system is no longer functioning to meet all the needs of Canadians.