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January 132022

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. The pandemic backlog has reached 153,320 surgeries and diagnostic procedures, an increase of 1,204 from our December estimate.

Estimated Surgery Backlog

Pandemic backlog estimate reflects March 2020 to November 2021

The surgical backlog increased in November for all procedures monitored other than cataracts. As of November 20, 2021, Shared Health reports that surgery slates are once again being disrupted as nurses are redeployed to support the pandemic response. This is estimated to add another 100 to 150 more cases to the backlog each week.

Estimated Diagnostic Imaging Backlog

Pandemic backlog estimate reflects March 2020 to November 2021.

The backlog improved in November for Ultrasound and MRIs, but grew for myocardial perfusion tests and bone density studies. The pandemic backlog for CT scans continues to be eliminated, though wait lists continue.


Estimated Backlog for Other Diagnostic Procedures

Pandemic backlog estimate reflects March 2020 to November 2021 

The backlog for diagnostic mammograms and sleep disorder studies improved in November, but grew for endoscopies and allergy tests.

Cumulative Pandemic Backlog by Month 

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
Archived Report — December 2021

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. The pandemic backlog has reached 152,116 surgeries and diagnostic procedures, an increase of 6,675 from our November estimate. Please note that we have revised our previous estimate to be more accurate (see notes under other diagnostic procedures for more details).

Estimated Surgery Backlog

Pandemic backlog estimate reflects March 2020 to October 2021

The surgical backlog increased in October in all areas. As of November 20, 2021, Shared Health reports that surgery slates are once again being disrupted as nurses are redeployed to support the pandemic response. This is estimated to add another 100 to 150 more cases to the backlog each week.

Estimated Diagnostic Imaging Backlog

Pandemic backlog estimate reflects March 2020 to October 2021.

NEW: Bone density tests have been added to our backlog tracking this month, accounting for most of the increase. 

The backlog increased for ultrasound scans this month, but improved for MRIs and myocardial perfusion.


Estimated Backlog for Other Diagnostic Procedures

Pandemic backlog estimate reflects March 2020 to November 2021 

The backlog for diagnostic mammograms, endoscopies, allergy tests and sleep disorder studies all increased in November. 

Data for October has been restated to reflect a correction in the data. October’s backlog had previously been estimated at 42,596. After reviewing the data, it was discovered the October backlog for these procedures should have been 51,935. The totals for each procedure have been updated above. This means the backlog of other diagnostic procedures increased in November by 1,069.

Archived Report — November 2021

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.

Last updated
January 13, 2022