Children on long wait lists for serious surgeries

The sounds of the Canada Day Concert at Prospera Place were still ringing in my ears as I pulled my copy of Maclean’s out of the mailbox.

To the editor:

The sounds of the Canada Day Concert at Prospera Place were still ringing in my ears as I pulled my copy of Maclean’s out of the mailbox. The headline jumped at me and for a moment pride welled up: Why It’s The Best Time Ever To Be Canadian!

The emotion subsided somewhat as I pondered the 10 reasons offered in support of the headline and my critical faculties kicked in.

So our houses are roomier than Americans. But did I not read just the other day that our household debt had surpassed that of our neighbours to the south?

Our real estate is red hot. Perhaps in West Vancouver, but certainly not where I live. I can’t remember when I last saw “Sold” on the real estate board in our complex.

We work way less. Perhaps because there is not enough work around.

And, lest I forget, we play more golf than anyone else in the world. All of us? When it gets difficult to find courses where you can play for less than $50, many of us play far less.

Am I one of those creatures whose cup is always half empty? Believe me, having lived in other places in Africa and Europe, I do know that I am very lucky to live in Canada. But my burden today is to remind us that there are some among us who wonder when their good time will come.

Fortunately for us and unfortunately for them, they are but a small segments of our society and they cannot afford expensize lobbyists.

For example, if you are a teenager suffering from a curvature of the spine, you will find it difficult to agree with Maclean’s headline. A medial study found that teens who wait more than three months for surgery to correct their curved spines, face enormous odds for a successful recovery. Their surgery will be more complicated and more dangerous. Their stay in the hospital will be longer. And additional procedures may be necessary. This is what a study conducted by Dr. Henry Ahn, of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, together with his co-authors found.

A parallel study based on 64,012 surgeries at pediatric hospitals in Canada by surgeon Dr. James Wright of Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and his co-authors came to similar conclusions.

In 2007 the federal government identified these surgeries as a priority area. It’s now 2011 and my grandson has been waiting for well over a year and there is still no surgery on the horizon.

He is not alone. There are long waiting lists for the most common procedures performed in pediatric orthopedics.

Dr. Douglas Couremanche of the BC Children’s Hospital noted that these studies of wait times, costly as they are, only identify the problem. But they do not provide a solution. He concludes: “One of the benefits of living in Canada should be that we can afford to look after each other.”

Being a senior, I am somewhat acquainted with wait times. Still, I am prepared to wager that most grandparents would gladly wait so that our children, the more vulnerable segment of our society, receive proper care. The studies show that being at a critical developmental period, long wait times can have adverse effects with a lifelong impact. It was encouraging to note MLA Norm Letnick’s column outlining how our government intends to navigate the “boomer glacier” impact on health care. How about some attention to the children who are waiting now? They too, some 10 years from now, want to say “its the best time ever to be a Canadian”

Werner Waitkus,



Kelowna Capital News