TORONTO, ON: The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) has released a document obtained through Freedom of Information legislation revealing the severe impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on surgical and diagnostic wait times in Ontario.
The CCF requested information about the total number of surgical and diagnostic procedures performed between March 18 and July 27 in 2020 and the same period of 2019. The document obtained from the Ministry of Health reveals the following dramatic statistics:
The number of oncology procedures between March 18 and July 27 dropped from 18,136 in 2019 to 13,856 in 2020. That is a decrease of 23.6 per cent.
The number of adult non-oncology surgeries between March 18 and July 27 dropped from 200,969 in 2019 to 51,856 in 2020. That is a decrease of 74.2 per cent.The number of paedeatric surgeries between March 18 and July 27 dropped from 20,055 in 2019 to 4,950 in 2020. That is a decrease of 75.3 per cent.
The number of CT scans performed between March 18 and July 27 has fallen from 735,939 in 2019 to 574,435 in 2020. That is a decrease of 22 per cent.
The number of MRIs performed between March 18 and July 27 has fallen from 324,244 in 2019 to 186,307 in 2020. That is a decrease of 42.5 per cent.
“Ontario patients were dealing with long wait lists and hallway healthcare before this pandemic hit. Decreasing surgeries by 24 per cent for cancer patients, and 74 per cent for other surgeries is going to make that situation worse. Children, who are supposed to have special fast tracked surgeries, have seen the worst impact, with pediatric surgeries falling by 75 percent. It isn’t clear that the government has any plan to deal with this impending backlog. If we thought hallway healthcare and wait lists were bad before, they’re about to get a whole lot worse,” said CCF Litigation Director, Christine Van Geyn.
The pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented reduction in the number of surgeries because the Ministry of Health issued a directive requiring all nonessential and elective services to be ceased or reduced to minimal levels.
“Being put on a wait list is not health care. And there is significant evidence that waiting can actually make health outcomes worse. The government needs to tell patients and the public what their plan is to address this backlog. This backlog can’t be addressed without some reforms to the healthcare system, and those reforms must put patient outcomes – not ideology – at the centre.”
The CCF is currently involved in litigation in British Columbia challenging the prohibition on independent health insurance and the prohibition on physicians from operating in both government hospitals and independent surgical clinics.
The original version of this release can be found here.