Estimated Emergency Department Wait Times

Anyone needing emergency care is reminded to call 911, or to go to the nearest emergency department or urgent care centre.

Access Estimated Emergency Department Wait Times

The estimated wait time is approximate, and patients may be seen faster than the wait time indicates. The estimated wait times do not apply to critically ill or injured patients – they will always be seen quickly.

See Estimated Wait Times

Understanding Estimated Emergency Wait Times

Alberta Health Services posts live, estimated emergency department wait-times for acute care facilities in six cities, providing Albertans in those areas with a tool to help in decision making about healthcare options.

The estimated wait time is approximate, and patients may be seen faster than the wait time indicates. The estimated time represents a prediction of a very specific snapshot in time, and does not apply to more seriously injured or ill patients.

To learn more, visit the Understanding Wait Times: Frequently Asked Questions.

What the Emergency Wait Times Represent

The wait times posted reflect an estimate of how long it might take from an assessment by a triage nurse in the emergency department or urgent care, to being seen by a physician. Wait times do not represent the total time patients may spend at the hospital.

During that time, patients may receive pain medication, be seen by a nurse or other care provider, or undergo one or more laboratory tests or radiology procedures (for example, an x-ray).

How the Estimated Wait Times are Calculated

The times are calculated through a software system, which uses current data from the facility that compares the number of people in the emergency department and how sick they are, with the resources that are available and required to treat those patients.

This means that the estimated wait time can fluctuate significantly at any time, on any given day. For example, wait times can be artificially high in the early morning when staffing is lower, but will improve significantly when more staff begin work.

Wait times can also change quickly if a serious trauma case arrives, or there is a high number of critically ill patients at a particular site.

Algorithm is generally based on a physician seeing a patient every 30 minutes


10 patients

waiting to be seen (mid-acuity)


2 physicians

working for the next hour

They can see 4 patients in the next hour


3 physicians

starting in an hour from now

They can see 6 patients in that hour



2 hours to see 10 patients

Website displays an estimated wait time of 2:00 hours

The above calculation is done every 2 minutes as more patients are being triaged and more patients are being seen.

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