More than 353K surgeries, procedures postponed in first months of COVID-19 pandemic: study

CALGARY — A new study has found hundreds of thousands of surgeries and procedures were postponed in the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

SecondStreet.org, a public policy think tank, released freedom of information responses on Thursday showing there were 205,549 surgery postponements in nine Canadian provinces between March and June 2020.  

The Ontario Government indicated it had “no records” on the subject, but data from the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) estimated there were 148,364 postponed surgeries in that province. 

That brings the national total to 353,913.

SecondSteet.org president Colin Craig says this new data should encourage governments to be more transparent about patients suffering due to postponed surgeries and procedures.

“We know some patients have died from surgical delays, but do we really know the extent of the problem?” Craig said.

“When COVID emerged, governments postponed hundreds of thousands of non-COVID surgeries, procedures and consultations with specialists. Not only has that increased waiting lists, it has caused tremendous patient suffering sometimes even resulting in death.” 

The following is a list of surgery postponements by province: 

  • B.C.:  24, 287;
  • Alberta: 16, 893;
  • Saskatchewan: 23, 209
  • Manitoba: 8,391;
  • Ontario: 148,364 (estimated);
  • Quebec: 70,467;
  • New Brunswick: 1,562;
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 23,867;
  • Nova Scotia: 35,753, and;
  • P.E.I.: 1,120.

Correction:

An earlier version of this story indicated the data covered from the start of the pandemic until March 2021. In fact, the data covered from March to June 2020.

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