Len Gillis/Local Journalism Initiative
A new survey carried out for the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) shows that while COVID-19 is still the main health concern of Ontario residents, residents are also seriously concerned about hospital wait times, and the backlog in surgeries and medical treatments.
This is based on a survey by Ipsos carried out among 1,000 Ontario residents from Dec. 7 to Dec. 13, 2021. Part of the answers were based on a question asking respondents to list their top two priorities.
OMA president Dr. Adam Kassam told an online news conference on Wednesday that the pandemic has taken a toll on the ability of the medical community to be able to provide many of the basic medical services that Ontarians came to expect as normal.
“The COVID-19 pandemic unfortunately has created a backlog of almost 20 million patient services including preventative care, cancer screening surgeries, and diagnostic tests such as MRIs, CT scans, mammograms and colonoscopies,” said Kassam.
“And catching up on this backlog, as we know, will take years. And we know that the backlog is continuing to grow as surgeries are postponed while hospitals manage the significant rise in patients being admitted with COVID.
Kassam added that Ontario needs to increase its financial commitment to health care in general. Kassam said Ontario’s per capita spending on health care is one of the lowest in Canada.
“We also know that health-care funding isn’t keeping up with the pace of demand, and that the Canadian Institute of Health data shows Ontario’s ninth out of 10 provinces in provincial health care spending per person. And compared to other countries, Canada ranks 23rd out of 32 OECD countries (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) in doctor-to-population ratio and is fourth from the bottom compared to other provinces, to transforming the healthcare system and mental health ranks second and third in terms of healthcare priorities for Ontarians,” said Kassam.
Also listed high among paired-priorities was improving and expanding hospital care (47 per cent), improving and expanding long-term care (46 per cent), stimulating economic growth (39 per cent), support for the environment and climate change (39 per cent) and support for mental health (36 per cent).
Kassam also told the news conference there were some findings that show a generational divide between concerns held by younger Ontarians and older Ontarians.
“Younger Ontarians are more interested in mental health issues suggesting a significant and perhaps growing generational divide,” said Kassam. He added that the priorities among older Ontario residents are the backlog for medical procedures and wait lists.
“Recently, the younger generation has prioritized mental health and they are more aware of it and perhaps even more open to talking about it and perhaps even more open to seeking care. Twenty five per cent of people aged 18 to 23, which is the Gen Z and 22 per cent of people aged 24 to 39, which is the Millennial Generation, said mental health should be the top priority,” said Kassam.
He said the figures were lower as people got older. Kassam said 16 per cent of Gen-X, those aged 40 to 55, and 10 per cent of Baby Boomers, those aged 56 or older, ranked mental health as a top priority.
The survey also addressed the issue of COVID-19 vaccinations. Sandra Guiry, senior vice president for public affairs at Ipsos, outlined some of the findings.
“We asked Ontarians we surveyed about their vaccination status and then probed a little bit deeper and understand the decisions people are making not to get vaccinated. So in this survey, we show that one in 10 Ontarians report that they have not been vaccinated against COVID-19, or they’ve only received one dose,” said Guiry.
“Seven per cent do not plan to get vaccinated. Among those unlikely to get vaccinated, they are more likely to be as noted as Millennial or Generation X, and they’re more likely to be women,” she added.
She added that in many cases, the respondents who were not vaccinated said it was a personal choice, but others said they feared possible side effects, they didn’t trust the government and did not believe the vaccine was effective. Only four per cent said they did not like needles. The survey also showed that only three per cent said they had a medical or health reasons and two per cent said they were not concerned about getting COVID-19.