Over 400K Albertans waiting for health care: report

Millions are on waitlists to receive health care services across Canada, according to a recent report, and while Alberta’s numbers are lower than a few provinces, thousands still face long waits to get the care they need.

Dom Lucyk, communications director with SecondStreet.org, says the report released on Boxing Day and compiled by the think tank shows a little more than 3.1 million Canadians are waiting for surgery, a diagnostic scan or to see a specialist, and it’s “unacceptable.”

In Alberta, that’s just over 415,000 people waiting for surgeries, diagnostic testing, and for a specialist. Ontario has around 900,000 people on a waitlist, while Quebec has around 1,350,000.

The think tank says the number of Albertans on waitlists rose from 2022, with 1,000 more people waiting for surgeries and more than 6,000 in the queue for diagnostic testing.

“The sheer numbers show that there are thousands and thousands of stories of people that are waiting too long,” Lucyk told CityNews.

He says some people die while waiting and others end up with conditions that are too late to treat adequately.

“Not everyone who is on the waitlist has a story that dramatic. Sometimes it’s something like a hip surgery, where you wait a year — you wait in pain – which is not something you should have to do and your life isn’t threatened — but still, quality of life is important to consider as well.”

However, those numbers are a conservative estimate.

“The true total is actually, probably over five million. We did some conservative estimates because a lot of areas didn’t give us complete data,” he said.

“Alberta actually did, one of the few provinces that gave us waitlist numbers in all three categories, so kudos to them for transparency.”

This follows a recent report from SecondStreet.org, which estimates roughly 17,000 Canadians died while on a waitlist.


Read More: Thousands of Canadians died while waiting for surgery, research suggests number could be higher


Lucyk says the province is moving forward on trying to address the issues with healthcare, but like other provinces, it is far from where it needs to be.

“Alberta is one of the better provinces when it comes to taking steps on health care reform,” Lucyk said.

“Premier Smith has been open towards contracting out private providers, private surgical providers to try and knock down that surgical waitlist. That’s a positive step we have seen work in other provinces.”

Lucyk also notes Smith is open to reimbursing Albertans who travel cross border to expedite getting the care they need.

SecondStreet.org launched a website CanadaWaits.ca in November 2022, to track Canadians on waiting lists. The think tank says at that time nearly three million Canadians were waiting. 

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