Overall Backlog

The impact of the pandemic response on Manitoba’s hospitals has resulted in a massive backlog of surgery and diagnostic procedures. Doctors Manitoba has been advocating on behalf of patients and their physicians for a plan to clear the backlog. As part of our work, we have created a dashboard to monitor the size of the backlog.

Our estimate of the backlog includes surgeries, diagnostic imaging tests such as MRIs and ultrasound scans, and other diagnostic procedures such as allergy tests and endoscopies.

Estimated Surgery Backlog

Pandemic backlog estimate reflects March 2020 to September 2021

The backlog of cataract tests improved in September due to higher-than-normal volumes. However, the backlog for cardiac surgery, hip/​knee replacements and other surgical procedures all increased. 

As of November 20, 2021, surgery slates are once again being disrupted as nurses are redeployed to support the pandemic response. This is estimated to add 100 to 150 more cases to the backlog each week.

Estimated Diagnostic Imaging Backlog

Pandemic backlog estimate reflects March 2020 to September 2021.

The backlog for all diagnostic imaging procedures improved in September, thanks to higher-than-normal volumes.

Estimated Backlog for Other Diagnostic Procedures

Pandemic backlog estimate reflects March 2020 to October 2021

NEW: Sleep disorder studies is a new procedure added to the backlog estimate this month, accounting for most of the increase. 

The backlog for diagnostic mammograms increased in September over August, while the backlog for allergy tests and diagnostic endoscopies decreased. However, with Shared Health’s report that endoscopy slates will be cancelled again, the backlog is projected to increase by 70 to 85 cases per week.

Methodology and References

The surgery and diagnostic imaging estimates reported above do not include any backlog of wait list that existed before the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020. The backlog estimates only capture the pandemic period. 

For all estimates, procedure volumes during the pandemic were compared with the same period for the year prior to the pandemic, and the difference is considered the backlog. In some cases, this was supplemented with other data and insights to develop and update these estimates. Because the pandemic has also delayed referrals for surgery and diagnostics, creating a secondary hidden backlog, our estimates attempt to include this for a more complete picture.

Surgery Wait Times: These estimates are based on a composite of publicly reported data from Manitoba Health and CIHI, public statements from provincial health officials and estimates and insights provided by surgeons and referring physicians. Sources include Manitoba Health Wait Time reporting, CIHI’s comprehensive reporting on surgery volume changes, public reports and updates from Shared Health officials, and estimates obtained in surveys from surgeons and referring physicians. See our earlier reports for full methodology.

Diagnostic Imaging Reports: These estimates rely primarily on publicly reported data from Manitoba Health’s Wait Time website.

Other Diagnostic Procedures: These estimates rely primarily on an analysis of physician claims data, supplemented by insights and estimates obtained from physicians.

Resources and Past Reports
Last updated
November 24, 2021