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As Waitlists for Surgeries & Procedures Soar, PC Task Force Nowhere in Sight

Treaty 1 Territory, Métis Homeland, Winnipeg, MB - Manitoba Liberals say the PCs need to clear up confusion around a task force to help clear the massive backlog of nearly 130,000 surgeries and diagnostic tests in Manitoba's health care system.

On June 17, Doctors Manitoba flagged the issue as a crisis and called for immediate action to tackle the 110,000 backlogged surgeries and tests.

For months, the backlog continued to grow at a rate of 1,000 procedures a week. The backlog reached nearly 130,000 by October 14 and Doctors Manitoba repeated their call for a task force with the support of Manitoba Liberals and other health care professionals.

Health Minister Audrey Gordon said a surgical backlog steering committee had been struck on October 14 - but upon being sworn-in, Premier Heather Stefanson appeared to contradict that, saying a task force would be created within weeks.

"Thousands of Manitobans are getting sicker and dying on growing wait lists that should have been addressed months ago," said Dougald Lamont, Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface. "It doesn't matter who the Premier was, there is no excuse for the PCs inability to even get started."

British Columbia started making plans around surgical backlogs after the first wave in spring of 2020. They obtained a new suite of software, SWIM, that will actually track procedures. Here in Manitoba, the PCs have only just put out a request for proposal (RFP) at the beginning of the province's fourth wave.

"The longer the PCs wait to start, the longer it will take to fix the problem, and this is an emergency - a real crisis," said Dr. Jon Gerrard, Manitoba Liberal Health Critic and MLA for River Heights. "There are steps we can and should be taking right now, like lifting the cap on hip and knee replacements and cataract procedures, but other areas are going to require extensive planning."

On October 5, Manitoba Liberals said the PCs need to measure waits realistically and stop the rationing of hip and knee replacements, as well as cataract surgeries. Under the NDP and PCs alike, the number of those procedures is limited in the province, even though doctors, nurses, staff and operating rooms may be available.

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