Emergency Room Wait Times Increase as COVID-19 Cases Surge

Kinew: Pallister’s Health Care Cuts Undermines Response

August 31, 2020

Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg MB—Wait times at emergency rooms in Winnipeg continue to increase year over year as the number of active COVID-19 cases surge across the province.

“Families have been waiting longer and longer for emergency care because of Mr. Pallister’s cuts to our health care. Now, with a health care pandemic putting unprecedented stress on our system, timely access to emergency health care has never been more important,” said Official Opposition Leader Wab Kinew. “Schools reopen for teachers and educators this week and influenza season is approaching quickly. There will be more pressure on our hospitals to treat Manitobans quickly, especially when they are forced to stay away from work and school while they recover from an illness.”

The WRHA’s latest monthly report on ER wait times in July reveal the 90th percentile of wait times are higher than recorded wait times in July of last year. This year, total wait times were at 4.52 hours, up from 3.68 hours in June 2020 and 4.47 hours in July 2019. The longest waits are Winnipeg’s largest hospitals like St. Boniface Hospital (4.98 hours in July 2020 from 4.62 in July 2019) and Health Sciences Centre (4.90 in July 2020 from 4.47 in July 2019).

Wait times in Winnipeg have been going up since 2017, when the Pallister Conservatives began rolling out deep cuts to the city’s health care system including closing three emergency rooms. In June 2019, the 90th percentile of wait times was 4.83 hours—less than its current level—and St. Boniface Hospital was forced to turn patients away from the emergency room because of capacity issues. In January 2020, nurses at HSC considered ‘grey listing’ the site given the difficult and strained working conditions caused by Pallister’s cuts.