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News release
May 10, 2022

Fixing wait times, mental health and doctor shortages in Peel and York regions priorities as June election nears

MISSISSAUGA, Ont., May 10, 2022— Some residents of Peel and York regions are waiting longer than recommended for knee surgeries and MRIs compared to Ontarians in other parts of the province, and Ontario’s doctors have a plan to address the issue.

Province-wide, about 29 per cent of Ontarians receiving knee surgery waited longer than provincial targets, according to the latest public data from Ontario Health, along with 63 per cent who had MRIs.

However, in Peel Region, 40 per cent of people waited longer for knee surgery in Brampton and between 56 and 75 per cent waited longer for an MRI in Mississauga. In York Region, 32 per cent waited longer than recommended for knee surgery in Markham and 70 per cent waited longer for an MRI in Newmarket.

Provincial guidelines recommend knee surgeries be performed within 42 to 182 days from the time of decision to surgery, depending on how urgent the procedure is considered, and within two to 28 days for an MRI.

“People across Ontario are waiting longer for surgeries and MRIs than the province’s own recommendations, and some of the wait times are even longer for patients here in Peel and York regions and nearby communities,” said Dr. Sohal Goyal, chair of the local Ontario Medical Association district. “Physicians and other health-care workers are doing everything they can to get patients the care they need, but they need help from the province.”

As Ontarians prepare to go to the polls June 2, wait times and clearing the backlog of 21 million medical services built up during the pandemic are among the top issues. An Ipsos survey conducted for the OMA found Ontarians want the government to prioritize clearing the pandemic backlog, even if it means a short-term impact on economic recovery.

When asked by Ipsos to identify the issue most important to them, 40 per cent of Ontarians chose addressing COVID-19, followed by 10 per cent who said access to health care/long wait times/understaffed hospitals. Seven per cent said economic growth should be the government priority.

Another survey conducted for the OMA found that reducing wait times and investing in hospitals, clinics and health-care facilities were key priorities to improve health care in Peel and York regions. 

To help solve the wait times issue, the OMA recently released a report recommending the adoption of Integrated Ambulatory Centres, publicly-funded, free standing centres that could perform less complex surgeries and procedures on an outpatient basis and relieve the pressure on hospitals.

Many seniors in both York and Peel regions are also waiting longer than people in other parts of Ontario to get into a long-term care facility in their respective region’s Local Health Integration Network. While the median number of days to get into a long-term care facility province-wide was 149 days, in York it was 181 days and 161 in the Mississauga area, according to the most recent public data from Health Quality Ontario.

Residents of the region are also concerned about mental health and addiction, according to ASI, a market research firm that uses artificial intelligence methodology to obtain insights into public discussions on social media.

Among ASI’s findings:

  • Mental health and addiction are among the Top 3 health-care topics on which people are most engaged in 16 area ridings
  • Every demographic, men and women, those under 25 to those over 65, engaged on the topic in those ridings

Ontario also needs more doctors to help address the issues residents are concerned about and fill gaps in the health-care system that were exacerbated during the pandemic. Mississauga and Brampton and the communities in Peel need about 202 more doctors, according to Health Force Ontario, which posts job openings for physicians. In York Region — which includes Richmond Hill, Markham Vaughan, Bolton, Bradford and East Gwillimbury — 227 doctors are needed.

Ontario’s doctors have made sweeping recommendations for clearing the backlog, fixing wait times, easing the doctor shortage and addressing mental health and addiction in Prescription for Ontario: Doctors’ 5-Point Plan for Better Health Care. The OMA has called on all political parties to adopt the Prescription’s 87 recommendations to strengthen the health-care system as part of their platforms for the June 2 election.

About the OMA

The Ontario Medical Association represents Ontario’s 43,000-plus physicians, medical students and retired physicians, advocating for and supporting doctors while strengthening the leadership role of doctors in caring for patients. Our vision is to be the trusted voice in transforming Ontario’s health-care system.

For more information, please contact:
Leslie Shepherd, OMA Director of Earned and Social Media