Ontario Waiting List Deaths Jump

  • Number of patients who died while waiting for surgery up 49% since last year
  • Diagnostic scan waiting list deaths jump 27%

SecondStreet.org released new Ontario Health data today that shows the number of patients who died while waiting for surgery in 2022-23 is up 49% since the previous year. The same data shows diagnostic scan waiting list deaths are up 27% year-over-year and cardiac surgical waiting list deaths are up 17%.

SecondStreet.org has been researching waiting list deaths across Canada since 2020. Data shows that patients often die while waiting for various procedures – operations which could potentially save their lives (e.g. heart operations) to surgeries which could improve their quality of life (e.g. a hip operation).

“Government data shows that despite spending more and more money, there has been a steady increase in waiting list deaths in Ontario over the past seven years,” said SecondStreet.org President Colin Craig. “Some will blame this on COVID, but health care in Canada, including in Ontario, was in a crisis situation long before COVID. We’re seeing some positive health reform in Ontario, but there’s more work to do.”


Number of Patients Who Died While Waiting for Surgery in Ontario:

2022/23:   2,096
2021/22:    1,417
2019/20:      986
2018/19:    1,039
2017/18:    1,138
2016/17:    1,045
2015/16:      940

Number of Patients Who Died While Waiting for Diagnostic Scan in Ontario (CT and MRI):

2022/23:   9,404
2021/22:   7,397
2019/20:   5,534
2018/19:   5,354
2017/18:   4,517
2016/17:   3,896
2015/16:   1,341

Number of Patients Who Died While Waiting for Cardiac Surgery:

2022-23:  95
2021-22:  81

“The Ontario government’s decision to partner with private clinics is a positive step that could help address this problem,” added Craig. “When Saskatchewan partnered with private clinics, their wait times went down substantially. Ontario could also let patients choose between using the public system or paying for health care at non-profit and private clinics. That would take pressure off the public system and save patients from having to drive to Quebec or the United States for timely treatment.”

For reference, Canadian Institute for Health Information data shows that Ontario spent an average of $4,057 per patient on health care in 2015/16. By 2022-23 spending had increased to $5,400 per patient, which is about 8% higher than the rate of inflation. The government-funded CIHI also notes Canada spends “among the highest internationally” among OECD countries on health care.


To view the 2022-23 data – click here

To view the 2021-22 data – click here

To view the 2015/16-2020/21 data – click here


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