A report by Quebec's health and welfare commissioner says the province has the worst emergency room wait times in the western world.
The report, released Thursday, says 35 per cent of patients in the province must wait five hours or more for care, compared to 15 per cent in Ontario, five per cent in the United States and Germany and two per cent in Switzerland.
Health commissioner Robert Salois described the province's emergency rooms as chronically overcrowded and accused authorities of lacking the leadership and will to tackle the problem.
The report found that 1.5 million emergency room visits surpassed the Health Department's maximum wait time in 2015-2016, amounting to 13 million extra hours spent waiting for care.
In Quebec, 10 per cent of emergency-room patients leave the hospital without having seen a doctor. In certain hospitals, the figure rises to more than 30 per cent.
Salois said the government should study the 20 or so Quebec hospitals with good results and implement their practices across the province.
In the report, Salois claims overcrowding in emergency rooms has become a chronic, "socially unacceptable" problem that has gone on far too long.
Its nine recommendations include an increased role for nurses. Others would adjust the number of doctors based on patient volume in emergency rooms and ensure family clinics are open on evenings and weekends.
Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette said the report was "nothing new" and the solutions were the same as his own. He said many of the recommendations were already about to be implemented.