Published on September 14th, 2015


What’s Happening With Wait Times? A Summary of the Pan-Canadian Alliance Wait Time Benchmarks Project

By Susan Rafaat, R.SLP, S-LP(C)
Director of Professional Practice
Alberta College of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (ACSLPA)

Susan Rafaat is a former chair of the Pan-Canadian Alliance and a member of the Wait Times Ad Hoc Committee. Below, Susan provides an update on the Pan-Canadian Alliance’s Wait Time Benchmarks Project. If you are interested in wait times and would like to assist with the project, please contact SAC CEO Joanne Charlebois at

The Pan-Canadian Alliance (PCA) Wait Time Benchmarks Project began in 2008 and was loosely fashioned after the work of a national alliance of medical specialty societies known as the Wait Time Alliance (WTA) for Timely Access to Health Care. The WTA was formed out of concern over delayed access to care for patients. According to this group, a wait time benchmark refers to “the threshold wait time for a given medical service beyond which the best available evidence and clinical consensus indicate that the patient’s health is likely to be adversely affected”. A full listing of the participating societies, the benchmarks developed to date and follow-up reports regarding the achievement of wait time targets is available at

In keeping with the spirit of the WTA, the Pan-Canadian Alliance embarked upon a project to develop national speech-language and audiology wait time benchmarks. The vision for the project was to advance the cause of reducing wait times for speech, language and hearing services across the country.

Developing Benchmarks

The PCA’s Wait Times Ad Hoc Committee successfully developed and approved a number of benchmarks, and expresses gratitude to Speech-Language Audiology Canada (SAC) for making this information accessible to speech-language pathologists and audiologists by posting it on their website.

As time marched on, some raised concerns regarding inconsistencies in the development of the speech, language and hearing benchmarks (e.g., some were created with expert opinion alone, some with expert opinion and a scan of the literature, some with expert opinion and extensive literature review). A sub-committee of the PCA therefore created a standard benchmark template in 2012 to use going forward, with the intention of reviewing existing benchmarks by applying a standard developmental process and format. Recognizing the importance of a comprehensive review of the literature as one component of a quality benchmark, PCA members felt that academic involvement and oversight in the developmental process was critical.

In 2013, members of the PCA began working to reinvigorate the Wait Time Benchmarks Project, extending an invitation to both academics and clinical experts to review existing benchmarks and identify priorities for future development. Dr. Susan Rvachew, S-LP(C), from the school of communication sciences and disorders at McGill University, who had been involved in the development of the Speech Sound Disorders benchmark, kindly agreed to serve as a Knowledge Transfer Advisor on the project. As a mechanism to share information, highlight the work of the Alliance and garner ongoing interest and support for the project, Susan Rvachew and I published an article entitled “Report on Benchmark Wait Times for Pediatric Speech Sound Disorders” in the spring 2014 edition of the Canadian Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. In her advisory role, Susan Rvachew also posted a series of educational blogs regarding benchmarks. She received positive responses from professionals in various parts of the country! In keeping with the new benchmark template, the PCA also approved a revised Child Language Wait Time Benchmark.

Moving Forward

As a volunteer effort, one can appreciate the dedication and commitment that is required to complete and maintain a collection of high-quality benchmarks. One challenge is that some of the original champions of this project are no longer in a position to lead the charge. While others remain committed and available to participate, the project requires additional personnel in the form of academics with specific expertise, clinical experts and a facilitator to work with the respective groups in order to move forward.

The PCA is sharing this information in order to determine whether there is time and energy available to continue with the project at this time. If not, the project will be placed on hold pending renewed interest from relevant stakeholders. Please contact Joanne Charlebois, SAC’s Chief Executive Officer, at with your questions and comments or an expression of interest to assist with moving the Wait Time Benchmarks Project forward.

About the Pan-Canadian Alliance

The Pan-Canadian Alliance of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Associations serves in a collaborative, information-sharing capacity on behalf of provincial, territorial and national speech-language pathology and audiology professional associations. It focuses on issues of mutual benefit and interest, both for the betterment of the professions of speech-language pathology and audiology, and on behalf of the clients whom our professions serve.

Member organizations as of 2015 include: the Alberta College of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (ACSLPA)*, the Association of Northwest Territorial Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (ANTSLPA), the Association Québécoise des Orthophonistes et des Audiologistes (AQOA), the British Columbia Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (BCASLPA), the New Brunswick Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (NBASLPA)*, the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (NLASLPA), the Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (OSLA), the Prince Edward Island Speech and Hearing Association (PEISHA), the Speech and Hearing Association of Nova Scotia (SHANS), Speech-Language and Audiology Canada (SAC), and the Yukon Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Association (YSLPAA). *Denotes both a regulatory college and member association.

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