My personal experience with trips to hospital emergency rooms is that wait times have increased over the last 25 years. Numerous newspaper articles on the subject seem to indicate that the trend to longer waits exists across Canada.
My latest data point came when my son broke a finger playing basketball. He made a nice play stealing a pass and drawing a foul and was rewarded with a finger not quite pointing in the right direction. My wife and I took a deep breath at the thought of a long wait at the hospital, but we had little choice. At least only one of us would have to wait with our son. Sadly, I couldn’t find my two-headed coin when we were deciding who would stay.
The wait to see a doctor was less than I feared at just over 5 hours. However, I can recall trips to the hospital for my own injuries decades ago when I waited less than an hour to see a doctor. What has changed?
In thinking about the root cause, I see the problem at ultimately coming from government debt. The Canadian government ran deficits through the 70s, 80s, and into the 90s. Turning this around in the mid-90s required cuts in government spending.
While there may be individual people, organizations, and political parties to blame for particular aspects of our current health care problems, once the debt had been built, funding pressure on our health care system was inevitable.