Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/11/2021 (200 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Five months ago, on June, 2021 Doctors Manitoba raised the alarm that our province was facing a massive backlog — you and your neighbours are waiting for over 110,000 surgeries and tests.
Hip replacements, knee replacements, eye surgeries, heart surgeries. We’re all waiting for them longer than ever, and the Progressive Conservatives haven’t even begun to tackle the problem.
By October, the lists had grown to 130,000 procedures. This is totally unacceptable, and so is the lack action. British Columbia started planning for dealing with backlogs after the first wave. Manitoba is now in its fourth, and there is no plan.
Over a month ago, Health Minister Audrey Gordon told media the task force was already under way, but upon being sworn in, Premier Heather Stefanson promised the same task force all over again — a few weeks from now.
For too long, Manitobans have been forced to wait in pain and worry — and for too long, the people responsible have blamed everyone but themselves.
There’s something called the "Pottery Barn rule" — you break it, you own it. The PCs broke Manitoba’s health care system, all on their own.
The PCs hollowed out the health care system so that it was already running on fumes, even before the pandemic. Year after year, they ordered 15 per cent cuts, froze salaries, closed emergency rooms and intensive care units. They ignored warning after warning after warning — from doctors, nurses, and citizens — and from us. We pleaded, begged, warned, and protested.
We have doctors quitting who describe the system as "dysfunctional." Important decisions take years to make. We have a nursing shortage because of burnout.
The PCs were warned by a panel of experts not to close the ERs at Seven Oaks and Concordia hospital before expansion and renovation of the ER at St. Boniface Hospital were complete.
They were warned that St. Boniface ER visits would increase by 55 per cent. It’s been a catastrophe.
There is a huge amount of rebuilding to do. We can’t just reopen the operating rooms when there aren’t surgical teams in place, n if the equipment needs replacing.
But there is one area where the PCs can and should act — lifting the cap on the number of surgeries that are done. For decades, the NDP and PCs have dictated to surgeons how many procedures they can do — and if they hit the limit, they don’t get to do any more.
When are there surgical teams who are willing and able, they should be freed to clear the backlog.
The backlog — and wait times — aren’t even accurate. Too often, people know there is a problem for months — or even years. But the PCs start the clock ticking way too late — from the time the doctor books your procedure to when it happens. That ignores all the time you had to wait to see the doctor.
We need to define wait times in a way that means something — from first diagnosis to treatment. The PCs are not fooling anyone and half-measures will not cut it.
Our new premier is not all that new — she has been an MLA for two decades, and was also deputy premier and health minister during this crisis. She needs to do more than listen — she needs to act to finally address the backlog that grew to the worst in Canada on her watch.
Our collective health and well-being depends on it.
St. Boniface constituency report
Dougald Lamont is the MLA for St. Boniface and leader of the Liberal Party of Manitoba.