EDITORIAL: Health care waiting list deaths are a national scandal


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The deadly aspects of Canada’s lackluster health care management, combined with our aggressive response to COVID-19, are becoming increasingly clear.

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The latest development comes from figures detailing how delayed treatments have led to an increase in the number of people dying waiting for surgery.

The numbers come from think tank SecondStreet.org, which focused on data from Ontario.

As Sun columnist Brian Lilley explained in a recent column: “After two years of delayed treatments and lockdowns, the big spike happened. A total of 1,417 people died while waiting for some kind of surgery. in 2021-2022, a 43.7% increase over pre-pandemic figures and a 34.6% increase over the average of the four pre-pandemic years for which figures have been published.

It’s a real scandal. It is a reminder that although many people have sadly died from covid-19, we are also still counting those who have been negatively affected by the pandemic restrictions.

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The tragedy is that it is a phenomenon that was all too predictable. A number of experts have warned that if we don’t get people back on routine medical treatment, we could face a health crisis that will rival or eclipse what has unfolded with covid itself.

“One can only hope that Ontario’s Minister of Health has seen these statistics and probes the numbers further,” SecondStreet.org President Colin Craig said in a press release. “How many of these patients died while waiting for potentially life-saving procedures? How many spent their last years waiting in chronic pain waiting for procedures like hip and knee surgeries? These are important answers to find.

This is a tragedy and indeed these are important questions that need to be answered. We’re also concerned that these numbers don’t represent the final tally.

These are just numbers for Ontario. It is reasonable to assume that other provinces have also seen an increase of around a third in the number of people dying while awaiting surgery.

Over the past few weeks, a much-needed public conversation has begun about improving the delivery of health care in Canada.

It’s not just about COVID. As we grapple with the challenges of an aging population, it is essential that we seek out innovative ways to deliver healthcare.

Its a question of life or death.

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