The Fraser Institute released its annual report Thursday on queues for specialist visits and diagnostic and surgical procedures. It says this year's wait time is more than double that of 1993, when it was 9.3 weeks.
The latest snapshot of medical wait times from the right-leaning think tank reports British Columbians are waiting, on average, six-and-a-half months from the moment their doctor writes a referral to the time they are getting treatment.
The problem appears to be focused on the Atlantic provinces.
"Excessively long wait times remain a defining characteristic of Canada's health-care system", said Bacchus Barua, the study's author.
Saskatchewan has one of the lowest medical wait times in the country, according to a national think-tank. Last year, patients waited an average of 16.6 weeks for care.
The survey also analyzed different types of procedures and found that orthopaedic surgery (41.7 weeks) and neurosurgery (32.9 weeks) had the longest times. "Long wait times are not a trivial matter - they can increase suffering for patients, decrease quality of life and, in the worst cases, lead to disability or death".
The Fraser Institute sent surveys to more than 11,800 specialist physicians and received responses from 21 per cent.
"We're definitely seeing incredibly long wait times for things like orthopedic surgery", he said.
The numbers add up to make B.C. wait times the seventh worst in Canada, Barua said. It shows nine out of 10 hip replacements were completed in 53 weeks, exceeding the national benchmark of 26 weeks.
Ontario's government will invest $1.3 billion in additional funding over the next three years to reduce wait times, said David Jensen, a health ministry spokesman. "It's time for policymakers to consider reforming the outdated policies that continue to contribute to long wait times in Canada".