In BC they are playing politics on wait time benchmarks. New Health Minister George Abbot said on October 10th:
"For the present time, there are probably only a few areas in which one might be able to move forward by evidence-based benchmarks,"
"Artificially or otherwise contriving benchmarks that had no robust medical evidence behind them would not be a useful advance on what we already have,"
At the same time however, the BC Ministry of Health has eliminated funding for research on evidence based wait times benchmarks. This has not been announced, but my wife does health policy research for the UBC Center for Health Services and Policy Research (CHSPR) and a good friend and collegue who works for the BCMA - USED TO HAVE FUNDING for this project but it was withdrawn.
Ontario is going ahead with non-science based benchmarks based on what the public deems to be "reasonable" wait times. Hard evidence is only available for cardiac surgery and cancer treatment.
Benchmarks make the provinces very nervous. It obviously makes it very obvious when the standards are not being met, and could require some provinces to drastically increase health spending. Additionally, there are some legal implications, if a patient sues because they have to wait longer than the benchmark for a procedure, who is liable? The doctor? The hospital? The Province?
So here is the thing - there is $41 billion available from the Feds over the next 5 years to reduce wait times, but it is contingent on the provinces setting benchmarks. BC won't establish non-evidence based benchmarks and has withdrawn funding for research into scientific benchmarks.
Of course - this is not what they have told the public.