Canadian health care is in crisis. The patient isn’t just sick; she is on life support, barely hanging on. Staffing shortages and treatment delays produced by the pandemic have proved the final straw, overwhelming a system in decline for decades. Starved of money, innovation and competition, it has effectively collapsed, and the results are nothing short of disastrous.
Patients are dying in emergency rooms. It was reported last week that a Nova Scotia mother of three, Allison Holthoff, waited seven hours in ER before giving up and dying at home. A day before, another Nova Scotia woman had died after a similar ordeal. Overall, deaths in Nova Scotia emergency rooms were up 10 per cent in 2022: 558 people died last year, up from 505 in 2021.
Patients are dying on wait lists for surgery. An analysis of Ontario Health records published by SecondStreet.org in August 2022 found that 1,417 Ontarians died waiting for some kind of surgery in 2021-22, a 43.7 per cent increase over pre-pandemic numbers and a 34.6 per cent increase over the average of the four pre-pandemic years.
Patients are dying waiting to see a specialist. As of September 2022, one million patients in British Columbia were on specialist wait lists, for everything from physiotherapy to cancer biopsies. Waits for some services were four times longer than at the start of the pandemic. Dozens of doctors sent a letter to the provincial health minister, saying, “it is soul-destroying to be unable to provide the specialty care that B.C. patients need and deserve.”