Are you suffering while you wait?

We are concerned about wait times for our patients, both for referrals to the proper healthcare providers for orthopaedic problems and for surgery.

You can make a difference by telling us your story and adding  your voice to the conversation by emailing the BCOA, your MLA (Find your MLA), your MP (Find your MP), the BC Minister of Health, and the federal Minister of Health.

Click here to see videos of what our members have to say. We have shared these videos with the Ministry of Health, the regional Health Authorities, the media and elected officials. Consider forwarding  one or more of the videos to your physician, your MLA, your MP and the BC Minister of Health.

Open Letter from Specialists of BC to the BC Health Minister – September 21 , 2022

September 21, 2022

The Honourable Adrian Dix, Minister of Health
Ministry of Health
1515 Blanshard Street, Victoria BC V8W 3C8

Dear Minister Dix,

We are writing to you to express our deep concern for the estimated 1 million patients waiting to see a Specialist in British Columbia. We are requesting an urgent meeting with you to discuss this critical issue and potential solutions.

Our entire health care system is crumbling, but not enough is being done to improve Specialist patient outcomes or shorten our overcrowded wait lists. If we do not work together to find solutions, Specialty care in this province is going to erode even further. We have been hampered by years of increasing challenges compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic. Patients are getting sicker and dying on our waitlists. Primary care providers, if available, do their best to support patients until they are seen. Urgent Primary Care Centres and Emergency departments are overwhelmed and can’t provide immediate access to Specialists. Increased admissions strain the already overburdened hospital system, and cost even more in both dollars and patient suffering.

Long surgical wait times are the most widely known, but the crisis in wait times extends to the entire breadth of Specialist care.  Here are a few of the innumerable examples:

  • A patient with sudden hearing loss who if seen sooner wouldn’t have become permanently hearing impaired.
  • Over 16,000 people waiting for an echocardiogram in Vancouver Coastal Health alone.
  • Patients in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island with new cancer diagnoses waiting 2-3 months for their first visit with an Oncologist.
  • A lone respirologist in Northern Health, unable to recruit partners, who has had to close her practice to less urgent referrals for the last 2 years just to catch up and continue seeing urgent cases, meanwhile patients have to travel hundreds of kilometers to see the next closest Specialist.
  • One of the few remaining Dermatologists in Fraser Health getting crushed with 60 to 100 new referrals a day forced to limit accepting new referrals to only the most urgent cases.
  • Patients waiting on tenter-hooks for weeks for their lab results and surgical pathology because of lengthy backlogs in our labs.
  • A 3 year old with possible autism waiting more than 18 months for a formal assessment, while her anxiety-ridden parents are left in limbo with no support.
  • Interior BC patients forced to travel hundreds of kilometers just to obtain simple x-rays because local wait-times are untenable.

These are just some of the hundreds, if not thousands, of stories from across the province. Specialists care for complex patients who are often too ill to advocate for themselves. We need to stabilize and strengthen our Specialty Care infrastructure to support this vulnerable population.

We see the decline in Specialist care first hand every day and we are exhausted and demoralized; it is soul-destroying to be unable to provide the Specialty care that BC patients need and deserve. We request a meeting with you emergently, and that is not a word we use lightly. As you said on September 13, “We need to transform the health-care system”; to succeed, this must include repair of Specialty care. We can help you do that.


Dr. Cassandra Lane Dielwart
Orthopedic Surgeon, Kelowna
President, BC Orthopedics Association

Dr. Tommy Gerschman
Pediatric Rheumatologist, North Vancouver
Past President, Consultant Specialists of BC

Dr. Charlotte Yong-Hing
Radiologist, Vancouver
President, BC Radiological Society

Dr. Maggie Aron
Otolaryngology Surgeon, Vancouver

Dr. Chris Hoag
Urologic Surgeon, North Vancouver
President, BC Urological Society
President, Consultant Specialists of BC

Dr. Brad Munt
Cardiologist, Vancouver
Past President, Society of Cardiology of British Columbia

Dr. Sharla-Rae Olsen
Respirologist, Prince George
Department Head, Internal Medicine UHNBC

Dr. Jon Slater
Pediatrician, Comox
Past President, Consultant Specialists of BC

Dr. Kamyar Kazemi
Vascular Surgeon, New Westminster
Section Head, Vascular Surgery

Dr. Michael Eng
Kidney Transplant Surgeon, Vancouver
Division of Urology Head, PHC

Dr. Claudine Storness-Bliss
Kidney Transplant Surgeon, Vancouver
Co-Dept Head, Obstetrics & Gynecology, SMH

Dr. Daniel Wong
Cardiac Surgeon, New Westminster
Section Head, Cardiac Surgery

Dr. Glen Ward
Pediatrician, Langley

Dr. Bahar Torabi
Pediatric Immunologist, Vancouver

Dr. Chih-ho Hong
Dermatologist, Surrey

Dr. Brian Mayson
Kidney Transplant Surgeon, Vancouver

Dr. Karen Seland
Radiologist, Prince George

Dr. Dana Wong
Otolaryngologist, Nanaimo

Dr. Fareen Din
Nephrologist, Prince George

Dr. Priya Manjoo
Endocrinologist, Victoria

Dr. David Kendler
Endocrinologist, Vancouver

Dr. David Harriman
Kidney Transplant Surgeon, Vancouver

Dr. Daniel Mendelsohn
Neurosurgeon, North Vancouver

Dr. Brenda Farnquist
Radiologist, Kelowna

Dr. Chris Nguan
Kidney Transplant Surgeon, Vancouver

Dr. Lik Hang Lee
Lab Medicine Physician, Vancouver

Follow up Letter from BCOA to the BC Health Minister – June 10, 2022

June 10, 2022

Honourable Adrian Dix, British Columbia Minister of Health
Victoria B.C.

Expression of interest to meet as communicated in the Legislature in May

Dear Honourable Minister,

It has been brought to my attention a transcript of a discussion from inside the Legislature in May where you said you expect that you would meet with me to discuss Orthopaedic surgeries in British Columbia. This is welcome news.

As president of the British Columbia Orthopaedic Association I have been intently listening and learning from my colleagues on their perspectives regarding the state of health care in the hospitals where we work. We have also been sharing ideas on solutions to our significant waitlists and I would very much appreciate the opportunity to share our ideas with you. Solutions that focus on sustainability of our surgical catch up, that could help impact positive change in our hospitals.
Despite all of our efforts to ramp up surgery, the staffing shortages seem to be ongoing, and the ability to get cases done on a weekly basis continues to be a challenge. These challenges are certainly disheartening as we try to catch up on all surgery in British Columbia. Wait times around British Columbia vary dramatically, and our combined efforts are still required to advocate for those patients who are still waiting 1-2 years for their life transforming surgeries.

We believe that by working together, collaborating on ideas and by learning directly from those of us that work on the frontlines, we can improve patient outcomes in this province.

In the meantime, I’m working with health colleagues (orthopaedic and beyond) across British Columbia to collect important surgical and patient data that we look forward to reviewing with you.

I welcome you to come for a tour and meet with me as the orthopaedic surgical lead at Kelowna General Hospital otherwise I’m more than happy to share our thoughts and solutions with you in Vancouver or Victoria.

I look forward to hearing back from you.


Cassandra Lane Dielwart MD. FRCSC
President, British Columbia Orthopaedic Association

Letter from BCOA to the BC Health Minister – March 16, 2022

16 March 22

Honourable Adrian Dix, British Columbia Minister of Health

Victoria B.C.

Communicating a Realistic Picture of Orthopaedic Healthcare in B.C.

Dear Honourable Minister,

This letter is to formally request an urgent meeting or call with you to discuss the state of orthopaedic surgery in our province.

I have been approached by CTV for comment on the situation with orthopaedic healthcare in B.C. and have an interview scheduled with them for Monday March 21.

I reach out not only as the incoming President of the British Columbia Orthopaedic Association representing over 170 Orthopaedic Surgeons in the Province, but also as a practicing physician with first-hand experience of the situation we are experiencing and supported by reliable accounts from many trusted colleagues. The BCOA advocates for the tens of thousands of orthopaedic patients across our province who are waiting for their time on our surgical waitlists to be up.

Managing health care through this pandemic has been no small feat. I commend the steps that have been taken over the past two and a half years to keep British Columbians safe, and to keep health care moving forward.

I also want to thank you for your advocacy for our patients in the past.

As we enter this now new world of “recovery,” a whole new set of challenges are upon us as a province. We would like to work with you, the ministry, the hospitals and the regions to ensure steady, appropriate access to care for Orthopaedic patients across the province for the future.

The reason for this letter and our request for a meeting is also to communicate serious concerns on behalf of our association regarding comments made recently, about having caught up with 100% of postponed operations from the early pandemic. This in no way re”ects the experience for most orthopaedic patients or surgeons in the province. In fact, we continue to struggle with access to operating rooms, have not caught up, and continue to see wait lists grow. We are bringing this to your attention urgently as we nervously see these trends continuing with detrimental impact to our patients’ mobility and mental health.

In Prince George, one surgeon whose waitlist averaged 80-90 patients for the 5 years leading up to the pandemic, has seen his waitlist almost TRIPLE, currently with a waitlist of 271
patients. If he was given 1extraOR per week, it would take him an entire year to bring his list back to pre-pandemic levels.
In Kelowna there are currently over 1200 patients on the Orthopaedic surgical waitlist,over halfof them have exceeded their benchmark, many of those have now waited over 52 weeks.

In Kamloops, since the beginning of the pandemic, Orthopaedics has lost 1,803 hours of operating time. On average an orthopaedic case takes around 2 hours, that is 900 patients who have lost their chance in the operating room.
At St. Paul’s Hospital, just this week it was announced an ongoing 40% reduction in surgeries for the next 4 months, due to sta#ng shortages as a fallout of the pandemic.

Unfortunately, orthopaedic surgery is often labeled as “elective,” which implies these surgical procedures are non-urgent. As such, orthopaedics has been hit by closures at a disproportionately high rate compared to all other surgical specialties. In Kelowna, since April of 2021, orthopaedics has lost 79 OR days, the next highest level of cancelations for another specialty is 48. These trends are seen across the province; according to the Fraser Institute report, orthopaedic wait times until surgery grew by 64% from 2020 to 2021, while Neurosurgery, Gynaecology, Ophthalmology, Otolaryngology, and General Surgery all showed a net REDUCTION in wait times (ranging 6 to 34% reduction).

The reality is, Orthopaedic surgeries are life-transforming.
The patient stories that have consistently!ltered in across this pandemic, as our waitlists continue to grow, are!lled with tales of uncontrollable pain, loss of mobility, loss of independence, ultimately leading to depression, short and long-term disability, job loss, and an increasing prevalence of narcotic dependence.

Orthopaedic procedures have a high success rate and are e$ective at helping patients restore their mobility and function.Appropriate timely treatment allows people to ‘get their lives back’ faster so they can get back to work earlier to contribute to their own welfare and the economic welfare of the Province.

Patients have been waiting for months, sometimes years, for any indication that their pain and su$ering will end. Many have seen these recent (operations back to normal)announcements as a promise. Since this announcement our phones have been ringing o$the hook, with patients inquiring when their surgical date will be, as they saw on TV, or read online, the excellent news of the (apparent) surgical renewal and success. The reality is patients have had their expectations unrealistically raised at the same time as access to orthopaedic operating resources have been cut, again.

For orthopaedic surgeons, the shock and response to the announcement of “nearly 100% of postponed surgeries completed” – has been staggering.

On the day of the announcement, I personally received six phone calls, 12 emails, and over 30 text messages from surgeons across the province, from multiple hospitals, in every health
authority, stating their astonishment and disbelief, with the statements that were made about surgeries being back on track. It has heaped pressure on an already pressured and frustrated professional body – reinforcing perceptions of orthopaedics as the ‘low hanging fruit’ for cuts and cancellations.

It is imperative for the orthopaedic surgeons we represent to have faith in the leadership we ultimately work for. It is important too, that patients have a realistic perception of the challenges we continue to face together and realistic expectations as to the waiting times they are likely to encounter.

We share a common goal of wanting to deliver an exemplary orthopaedic healthcare service to orthopaedic patients in B.C. The challenges also present opportunities to change and I look forward with hope and optimism that we can create plans together for a true recovery for orthopaedic patients in this province.

I look forward to the opportunity to discuss this with you at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely yours,

Cassandra Lane Dielwart MD. FRCSC
President-Elect British Columbia Orthopaedic Association

To add your voice to the conversation about timely access to care, email the BC Minister of Health at or the Federal Minister of Health at