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Ontarians Spending Less Time In Emergency Rooms

Archived News Release

Ontarians Spending Less Time In Emergency Rooms

McGuinty Government Continues To Improve ER Performance

Office of the Premier

Ontario patients are spending less time in emergency rooms (ERs), allowing them to receive treatment faster, return home sooner and freeing up hospital time to treat other patients.

Time spent in the ER has decreased by 1.2 hours over the last four years -- with approximately 86 per cent of people receiving treatment within target time frames.

The Ontario government is also building on the success of its ER performance improvement program to support hospitals facing the biggest challenges. This year, 74 ERs are being funded with up to $93.6 million to further reduce the amount of time patients spend waiting for treatment.

Helping people receive faster treatment in the ER is part of Ontario's Action Plan for Health Care to ensure that Ontarians are accessing the right care at the right time and in the right place.

Quick Facts

  • In February 2009, Ontario set ER length of stay targets of four hours for patients with minor conditions and eight hours for patients with complex conditions — 86 per cent of visits are seen within these targets.
  • Emergency rooms have seen a steady increase in complex patients, with the most serious cases increasing by over 35 per cent since April 2008. Despite this increase, patients are spending less time being treated and discharged.
  • More than 5.5 million patients were treated in Ontario’s emergency rooms last year.

Additional Resources


“Improving ER wait times helps make an uncertain time less stressful. Thanks to the hard work of hospital professionals, we’ve been able to reduce wait times and improve the lives of patients and their families.”

Dalton McGuinty

Premier of Ontario

“Ontarians who need medical attention are now being seen faster and spending less time in emergency rooms — which is part of our commitment in the Action Plan for Health Care to ensure people receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time.”

Deb Matthews

Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

“Ontario’s emergency departments are making great progress in improving their performance so that they treat patients better and faster. The government’s investment is helping them to achieve their goals.”

Dr. Howard Ovens

Provincial Lead, ER Strategy