There was a reduction of 937,000 surgeries performed in Canada compared to pre-pandemic years according to a new report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).
The most significant decreases occurred between March and June 2020 after non-urgent surgeries were cancelled or postponed due to provincial and federal Covid restrictions, as reported by CTV News.
Between April 2020 and September 2022, completed knee replacements fell by 20% and hip replacements fell by 11%. 92,000 fewer Canadians were able to receive cataract surgeries in a timely manner also.
Currently, only 50% of patients still requiring knee replacements are being treated within the recommended six-month period. Before the pandemic, 70% of those needing knee replacements and 75% percent of those needing hip replacements had them completed within six months.
Wait times for cancer surgeries also increased slightly in 2022, according to CIHI. Half of cancer patients between April and September 2022 waited between 1 to 3 days longer for breast, bladder, colorectal and lung cancer surgeries compared to before the pandemic.
The wait time for prostate cancer surgeries increased by 12 days as a result of delays and cancellations in the first few months of the pandemic.
While recent data in the report shows that the number of scheduled surgeries is approaching pre-pandemic levels, it is insufficient to clear the backlog due to continued staffing shortages in hospitals around Canada.
In 2021, average healthcare waiting times for medically necessary treatment increased to an average of 25.6 weeks between referral and treatment.
During the pandemic, thousands of healthcare workers across Canada faced discipline or were fired for being unvaccinated. An article published in the peer-reviewed periodical of the Canadian Medical Association Journal states that healthcare workers were among the “most likely” to express vaccine hesitancy at the beginning of the pandemic.