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News release
May 26, 2022

Fixing wait times, mental health and doctor shortages in Toronto area, priorities as June election nears

TORONTO, May 26, 2022—Toronto residents are waiting longer than those in other parts of the province to be placed in a long-term care facility and they experience a wide range of wait times for knee, hip and other surgeries — issues Ontario’s doctors have a plan to address as the June 2 election nears.

Ontarians wait a median 149 days to get into a long-term care facility, according to the most recent public data from Ontario Health. In Toronto, however, people wait 219 days to get into a facility in the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network.

When it comes to surgeries, wait times depend on where in the city Torontonians are being treated, according to the Ontario Health. In some areas, very few patients are being treated outside recommended times, while in others the wait times are much longer.

For example, at one location, only nine per cent of patients waited longer than recommended for hip surgeries, but the number was 69 per cent at another location. For MRIs, where 63 per cent of Ontarians waited outside target times, the number ranged from 53 to 84 per cent in Toronto.

Provincial guidelines recommend hip and knee surgeries be performed within 42 to 182 days from the time of decision to surgery, while the recommended time for MRIs is two to 28 days.

Ontario 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. Toronto needs about 639 more doctors, according to Health Force Ontario, which posts job openings for physicians.

“People across Ontario are waiting longer for surgeries and MRIs than the province’s own recommendations, and we need more consistency in the city of Toronto, as well as getting our seniors in long-term care faster,” said Dr. Lisa Salamon, 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,” said OMA President Dr. Rose Zacharias.

As Ontarians prepare to go to the polls June 2, wait times and clearing the backlog of nearly 22 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.

The most recent Ipsos survey for the OMA conducted in late April found that health care continues to be the most important issue for Ontarians, ahead of inflation and housing. Health care is ranked No. 1 or 2 by one-third of voters and the backlog and wait times are the top health-care issues.

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.

Toronto residents 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 the top health-care topics in which people are most engaged in eight ridings: Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Davenport, York Centre, Willowdale, University-Rosedale, Don Valley West, Don Valley North and Scarborough Centre
  • Women of all ages, but particularly those under 34, were the most engaged demographic on the topics in those ridings

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, and recently released a report card showing how closely aligned the parties are with OMA’s plan. 

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