Victoria’s shame – longest clinic wait times in Canada

Victoria’s shame – longest clinic wait times in Canada

With a doctor shortage crippling Vancouver Island, Victoria has the dubious honour of experiencing the longest walk-in clinic wait times in Canada.

That’s according to tech company Medimap, as it points to its recently released walk-in clinic wait time index—using 2021 data collected from more than 1,200 clinics across the country.

Out of Canada’s top 10 cities with the average longest wait time, seven are in BC, with Victoria scoring first at 161 minutes, followed by Kelowna in second and White Rock in third.

BC’s average wait time was the longest of all provinces and jumped 15 minutes to 58 minutes in 2021 compared to 2019—more than double the time for neighbouring Albertans, who waited around 18 minutes last year.

According to Medimap CEO Blake Adam, the company decided not to do a wait time index in 2020 due to COVID-19.

“So we wanted to look at 2019 as a full-year pre-pandemic and 2021 as a full-year post-pandemic and compare,” Adam says.

“We had a bit of an expectation that across the board, wait times were going to be lower because people were staying home, not going to clinics and doing virtual visits, which are quicker.”

And while that was true for most provinces, it’s a different story in BC. “It went up around 35% between 2019 and 2021,” explained Adam.

Looking at Victoria’s ranking specifically, he says he was “blown away” by the results but not entirely shocked.

“I think in Victoria, it’s a well-known problem that people have a difficult time finding a family doctor,” noted Adam. “In the past four months, there have been several clinics that have closed as well.”

This year, multiple Greater Victoria walk-in clinics have announced permanent closures, including the James Bay Medical Treatment Centre, Colwood Medical Treatment Centre, and View Royal’s Eagle Creek Medical Clinic.

The latter estimates around 100,000 locals are without a family doctor due to “the severe shortage of community-based, longitudinal doctors in the Capital Regional District.”

More recently, Cook Street Village Medical Clinic walk-in has closed up shop.

A sign taped to its front door earlier this month stated, “We have made the difficult decision to close the walk-in portion of our clinic. This means we longer offer walk-in services to the community.”

On April 8th, the BC government said it was investing $3.46 million in short-term measures to combat the local doctor shortage, including funding to keep five walk-in clinics up and running.

Still, Adam expects the region’s walk-in clinic wait times to continue on an upward trend and climb even higher.

“That is what you would expect, unfortunately. We’ll have to see when we do the next report for 2022, but I don’t think it’s a promising thing,” he added.

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