Health Minister Christine Elliott announced today that the province is investing up to $324 million in new funding to enable Ontario’s hospitals and community health sector to perform more surgeries, MRI and CT scans and procedures, including on evenings and weekends.

This plan is expected to enable Ontario’s health care system to perform up to 67,000 additional surgeries and procedures as well as up to 135,000 more diagnostic imaging hours to address wait times for surgeries and procedures, according to the province.

In media statement issued today, the province shared its surgical recovery plan which will enable hospitals and community providers to operate at 110 to 115 per cent capacity.

A new investment of $300 million from the 2021 Budget is dedicated to help the hospital sector recover and perform thousands more surgeries and diagnostic imaging hours, and help reduce wait times. Around $216 million will be given to hospitals to extend operating room hours into evenings and weekends and perform up to 67,000 additional surgeries on top of the typical volume of 650,000 scheduled surgeries that happen in main operating rooms each year. New surgeries funded may include up to 33,000 new cataracts surgeries, up to 4,300 new orthopedics surgeries and up to 9,000 new paediatrics surgeries. MRI and CT imaging services will receive $35 million.

The province is also making a $18 million investment in centralized surgical waitlist management to increase use of electronic referrals and support work to enable efficient tracking of surgical information, making better use of specialist and hospital resources and reducing patient wait times.

It is allocating $1 million for surgical smoothing coaching from an expert team of experienced surgeons and administrators to support knowledge sharing and best practices to optimize the use of operating rooms at key high-volume hospitals.

Another $30 million will go towards the new Surgical Innovation Fund to help hospitals in each region of the province to address barriers and increase their surgical output. The province said approval for funding will be released in September 2021 for immediate implementation this year.

A new investment of up to $24 million is being dedicated to increase volumes of low-risk, publicly funded surgical and diagnostic services in independent health facilities and to support the licensing of new independent health facilities for existing services.

Funding allocations for additional surgeries will be communicated to hospitals in early fall as they continue to ramp up to increase their surgical output, the province stated.

The COVID-19 pandemic placed significant pressures on hospital and health care resources forcing hospitals to put many surgeries and procedures on hold. According to the province, 76 per cent of patients who were waitlisted for required surgery between March 1, 2020 and March 1, 2021 have received the care they need.

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