With long wait times at home in Canada, many British Columbians are going abroad for surgery.

The province plans to upgrade two Lower Mainland hospitals, but any improvements to Royal Columbian and St. Paul’s will not materialise for some years.

Long wait times for surgery are to likely continue until these upgrades are carried out, which means some people are deciding to have their surgery abroad instead of waiting.

It’s difficult to identify the exact numbers, but Simon Fraser University’s Jeremy Snyder, who researches trends in medical tourism, says thousands of British Columbians travel for healthcare every year.

“For some of these people who are in pain and they are being told they have to wait six months, two years for treatment or even for a diagnoses, you can certainly understand why they’re willing to pay out of pocket,” said Snyder.
He predicts the number of people travelling abroad will just keep growing.

“The baby boom generation is moving through and demanding care, and it may be the case that resources being put into the system aren’t able to keep up [with the demand].”

Senior Couple Sitting on a Plane

Snyder also says some people are deciding to travel abroad because other countries have experimental treatments not available in Canada, and you will often find lower costs for the procedures.

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