Canada's ailing healthcare: Surge in surgery and specialist waitlists

Written by  Prerit Chauhan   |  December 27th 2023 04:58 PM  |  Updated: December 27th 2023 04:58 PM

Canada's ailing healthcare: Surge in surgery and specialist waitlists

PTC Web Desk: Recent data released by, a Regina-based public policy think tank, sheds light on the challenging landscape of healthcare services in Canada. The report, sourced from their CanadaWaits project, reveals staggering statistics regarding the number of Canadians waiting for crucial medical services.

As of the latest data, over 631,000 individuals are awaiting surgical procedures, while more than 1 million are in line to see a specialist. Additionally, a substantial 1.4 million Canadians are awaiting diagnostic care. However, it's important to note that several provinces did not provide complete data, leading SecondStreet to estimate that the actual total may exceed five million, affecting approximately one in eight Canadians.

The report indicates a concerning trend of increasing wait times for medical services across the country. While some provinces showed marginal improvements, the overall trajectory remains concerning. Encouragingly, Quebec demonstrated a slight decline in surgical waitlists (-2.1%) and a significant reduction in diagnostic queues (-41.5%). Manitoba also reported progress, with a decrease of 20.9% in surgical waitlists and a 15.1% drop in diagnostic queues, albeit with limited data provided.

Saskatchewan showcased a positive trend as well, with a 17.4% reduction in surgical waitlists and an 8% decline in diagnostic waitlists. However, the lack of statistics from both Saskatchewan and Manitoba on specialist waitlists raised concerns about transparency in reporting by some governments.

Ontario's data presents a mixed scenario, with a 6.2% reduction in surgical waitlists, yet a dramatic 43.8% increase in diagnostic queues. These statistics illustrate the complexities and inconsistencies within the healthcare system across different regions in Canada.

Moreover, the Fraser Institute's data portrays a concerning picture of the median wait time for surgeries, which has escalated significantly from 9.3 weeks in 1993 to a staggering 27.7 weeks in 2023, signifying the growing strain on the healthcare system over the years.

The CanadaWaits initiative, launched in November 2022, aims to publicly track the number of Canadians on various medical waiting lists, shedding light on the challenges individuals face when accessing essential healthcare services.

While some provinces have shown marginal improvements in reducing wait times for medical procedures, the overall data reveals a worrying trend of increasing waitlists and strain on Canada's healthcare system. Transparency in reporting remains a concern, and the growing disparity in wait times across different regions calls for concerted efforts to address the mounting challenges faced by Canadians seeking timely medical care.


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