Mr. Speaker, over the past several months our health minister has had discussions with health ministers from every province and territory to obtain their views on the opportunities and challenges they see in reducing wait times. Already some provinces have tackled complex issues and they are achieving improved results and making progress toward being ready for a guarantee, which is the next logical step in our health care step.
Ontario reports reducing wait times in eight of nine services it tracks, and that is since 2005. Over the last three years Ontario has decreased wait times for angiography by 25 days and for MRI scans by 29 days. In the last year cataract surgery wait times in Ontario have decreased by 61 days.
Quebec is leading the way in guaranteeing timely access and recourse in two priority areas. Further its service corridor model allows cancer patients' waiting times for more than eight weeks to be transferred between the radiation oncology centres.
Manitoba and Quebec have indicated that they are providing de facto guarantees to some cardiac services and cancer treatments.
Manitoba's wait time for cancer radiotherapy is down one week from over six weeks in 1999.
Alberta's hip and knee replacement pilot project has shown success in reducing wait times from 47 weeks to 4.7 weeks. That is a tenfold decrease.
In British Columbia the median wait time for cataract surgery fell from 9.7 weeks in 2005 to 7.4 weeks in 2006.
These examples, and there are many more, clearly show that when we work with focus and determination, when we have a common goal and, most important, when governments work together, we can deliver to Canadians the kind of health care they deserve.
Last summer our Minister of Health met with health ministers from Denmark, Sweden, Mexico and France to see how other nations had been able to reduce wait times. For example, Sweden introduced its national maximum wait times guarantee in 2005. Its plan includes patients to be treated elsewhere if waits become excessive.
Denmark's extended choice of hospitals initiative was launched in 2002. If its health care system is unable to provide treatment within two months, patients have the option of being treated in a private facility or another country.
The United Kingdom has a choice at six months policy, which means patients who wait more than six months for elective surgery will be offered the choice of moving to another provider for faster treatment. The U.K. program is a good example of system triggered recourse. The patient is not required to file a complaint at six months. The choice is automatically offered.
These international examples show the kinds of guarantees that are possible for governments to offer their citizens. Sweden, Denmark and the United Kingdom did not deliver patient wait times guarantee overnight. It was a process founded on improving the management of their health care systems to use tax dollars more efficiently and effectively to provide their citizens with better health outcomes.
The message from international experience is simple. The effectiveness of a nation's health care system depends on two things, its medicine and its management. To provide the very best, countries must do both equally well.
Canada is a world leader in many scientific medical based endeavours. Our scientists and our scientific community are among the most valued in the world, often in terms of scientific citations being at the forefront of their disciplines.
This is something, as a country, we need to be proud of. Recent successes in the provincial management of wait times are indicators that we are making progress on the management of our system and this includes the financial management of that system.
Let us address the money issue head on. There is a lot of new money going into our health system: $41 billion dollars in new money to the provinces and territories over the next 10 years, with a 6% increase for inflationary purposes each and every year.
Canadians want, and demand, to know that this money is being managed effectively. They want, as our government has promised, greater transparency in terms of what their tax dollars are delivering and they want greater accountability for those results.
As members saw in September, when our government announced the results of its expenditure review, we expect taxpayer dollars to be carefully spent and programmed to be properly managed.