Reducing Surgical Backlog and Expand Access to Care

Published on September 28, 2020

The last thing patients and families should have to worry about right now is the cancellation of their surgery or procedure due to a second wave of COVID-19.


That’s why the government is investing $741 million to help clear the backlog of surgeries and build more capacity in the health care system to effectively manage surges and outbreaks in COVID-19 cases as part of the province's COVID-19 fall preparedness plan.


We are moving mountains to make sure all patients get the top-notch care they deserve, while clearing the backlog of surgeries. At the same time, we are preparing for any future surge or outbreak in order to keep everyone safe and healthy.


Ontario will continue to protect the health and wellbeing of all Ontarians and ensure they can access the routine health services they need by:

  • Expanding access to virtual emergency department services and giving patients the option of virtual pre- and post-surgery appointments, to support surgical care transitions when appropriate to do so;
  • Helping up to 850 alternate levels of care patients access the right level of care in a home or community setting to help add more capacity in hospitals; and
  • Increasing home and community care service volumes by investing $100 million to add an additional 484,000 nursing and therapy visits and 1.4 million personal support worker hours.


Ontario is making the necessary investments to expand access to services and surgical and procedural backlogs by:

  • Investing up to $283.7 million to support additional priority surgeries including cancer, cardiac, cataract, and orthopaedic procedures;
  • Extending diagnostic imaging hours at health care facilities for MRIs, CT scans, and other critical procedures;
  • Adding an additional 139 critical care beds and 1,349 additional hospital beds in hospitals and alternate health facilities across the province to support more surgical procedures; and
  • Working to initiate a centralized waitlist and a program to optimize the use of the operating rooms to improve the use of existing resources and increase the number of surgical procedures in hospitals by hundreds on average per year.


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