Ontario Medical Association release stats surrounding wait times in the north

According to the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), people in northern Ontario are waiting longer than the provincial target time for MRIs.

The OMA, which represents more than 40,000 doctors in Ontario, said recent statistics regarding wait times found that northern Ontarians have to wait longer than most for care.

"Seventy-six per cent of patients in the Sudbury area are waiting longer than the provincial benchmarks," said Dr. Stephen Cooper, a family physician on Manitoulin Island and the District 9 chair of the OMA.

"Sixty-seven per cent of patients who have a scheduled MRI in the Timmins area need to wait longer than the provincial benchmarks. And in North Bay, it’s 82 per cent, which is much longer than what the province thinks is acceptable."

Cooper also said 48 per cent of people in Sudbury had to wait for cataract surgery, which can really affect a person's quality of life.

"They can’t drive their cars, and they can’t get out for groceries," he said.

"So, it really is affecting the ability for people in Sudbury and people in northern Ontario to go about those things that are not just recreational, but also the essentials of what they need to make a living."

Cooper also said the wait for seniors to get into long-term care homes in most of the province is 149 days, but in Sudbury, it’s 178 days.

"Long-term care facilities are full across northern Ontario and those patients that are waiting to get in are either at home or they are likely having family members putting their lives on hold while caring for their loved ones," he said.

"Or ... they are in hospital beds, which means hospital resources are looking after patients in long-term care services. It’s really backlogging the whole system."

As a possible solution, the OMA is suggesting the province allow the establishment of ambulatory care centres for surgeries so people don’t have to wait for a hospital opening.