Number of Canadians on Health Care Waitlists Rises in 2023

  • The number of Canadians waiting for surgery, a diagnostic scan, or to see a specialist has risen by more than 140,000 since late 2022.
  • Saskatchewan, Quebec and Manitoba saw best improvements

REGINA, SK: New data released today by shows that over 3.1 million Canadians are confirmed to be waiting for surgery, a diagnostic scan, or to see a specialist. Since a number of provinces didn’t provide complete data, the actual total is estimated to be closer to 5.1 million patients waiting – roughly one in eight Canadians. launched in November 2022 to publicly track the number of Canadians on waiting lists. Data at that time showed there were nearly 3 million Canadians waiting. 

“Overall, we’ve seen a rise in patients waiting. This is not good news,,” said Communications Director Dom Lucyk. “We’ve seen positive movement in some parts of the country, but overall, we’re going in the wrong direction.”

Some highlights from the research include:

  • Ontario saw progress on surgical waitlists, with a 6.2% drop. However, its diagnostic waitlist rose significantly ‒ nearly 44%. This suggests that there may be a bottleneck when it comes to diagnostic scans.
  • This update showed a drop in transparency from some governments. For example, New Brunswick only provided surgical numbers, where it had previously provided data on diagnostic and specialist waitlists. 
  • Saskatchewan, Quebec and Manitoba all saw progress on surgical and diagnostic waitlists. However, Manitoba provides much less complete data, only covering four types of surgical procedures and five types of diagnostic imaging. 

Data for each province can be seen in the table below:

ProvinceSurgery            SpecialistDiagnosticDate
BC91,821 (+3.4%)SEPT 14, 2023
AB76,475 (+1.6%)225,122 (N/A)114,887 (+5.6%)SEP-OCT 2023
SK*29,713 (-17.4%)18,965 (-8.0%)JUN-JUL 2023
MB**7,040 (-20.9%)47,786 (-15.1%)AUG, 2023
ON215,275 (-6.2%)661,747 (+43.8%)OCT 31, 2023
QC157,331 (-2.1%)817,542 (+3.0%)413,823 (-41.5%)SEP-OCT 2023
NB25,351 (-7.0%)SEPT 30, 2023
NL6,816 (-62.9%)78,761  (+52.5%)SEP-OCT 2023
NS20,116 (-23.4%)29,007 (+3.0%)82,834 (N/A)OCT 2023 / JUN 2022
PEOCT 12, 2023
YTNOV 15, 2023
NT 872 (+32.9%)9,989 (+969.5%)443 (+105.1%)NOV 2022 – JAN 2023
NU717 (+13.4%)2,297 (-39.1%)123 (+310.0%)OCT 8, 2023
  GRAND TOTAL:3,134,853 (+4.8%) 

* Saskatchewan and Manitoba numbers accessed from public databases on Dec 13, 2023
** Manitoba only provides data for four types of surgeries and five types of diagnostic scans, so numbers are underreported.

“There are many steps governments can take to lower these numbers and get more Canadians the care they need,” said President Colin Craig. “We’re seeing some good changes, but if we see more, we’ll see improvements to patient care. For leadership, we should be looking to European countries with better performing universal health care systems.” regularly updates with the latest government data on waitlists.

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