Surgery Wait Lists in B.C. are now Larger Than Population of Some Cities: Report

Surgery Wait Lists in B.C. are now Larger Than Population of Some Cities: Report

The wait times for surgery in B.C. have tripled since 2002, say the province’s anesthesiologists.

They’re urging for more collaboration between the government, political parties and health authorities to solve the issue.

Over 85,000 British Columbians were waiting for surgery at the end of the last fiscal year, according to data logged by the Ministry of Health. The numbers were presented in a 10-page paper by the B.C. Anesthesiologists Society.

“To me, it’s an incredible number,” said Dr. Roland Orfaly, CEO of the society, which represents more than 400 professionals in the province.

“To put that into context: that’s larger than the number of people who live in a city like Port Coquitlam or a city like New Westminster.”


National guidelines released in 2004 states the longest acceptable wait time for surgery is 26 weeks, or about six months.

“Of those 85,000 people who were waiting at the end of the last fiscal year, 35,000 of them had already waited longer than that maximum acceptable benchmark,” Orfaly told Stephen Quinn, host of CBC’s The Early Edition.

With no easy solutions to the problem, a fix must come from the government, health authorities, and other healthcare providers working in unison.

Related: This Man Plays the Saxophone – While Undergoing Brain Surgery

“This isn’t a problem that’s developed overnight,” he said.

While B.C. doctors are in the middle of negotiations of a new agreement with the government next year, pointing to compensation as an underlying issue of these medical waits, Orfaly says the problem runs even deeper.

“Frankly, I don’t think that a multifactorial, complex problem like surgical wait times is going to be addressed at a compensation table,” Orfaly said.

Photo Credit: JGA/; Monkey Business Image/

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