WINNIPEG -- A Manitoba health official said on Monday it will take months to catch up the backlog of elective surgeries in the province, after they were suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of one week ago, the province has permitted non-urgent surgery and diagnostic procedures to resume as part of phase one of the reopening plan.

Lanette Siragusa, Shared Health’s chief nursing officer, said the surgical team is looking at building on these surgeries week by week.

“It will be gradual, looking, making sure they are managing staffing, beds, equipment, PPE,” she said.

“I think they’re also looking into the summer where there might be opportunities. Staff have already been scheduled to take their vacation, so we’re working around that, but making sure that we get to them as soon as possible.”

Siragusa noted that during past crises, such as the St. Boniface flood, they’ve discovered ways to be more efficient.

“If we work together and we utilize the time, there is often opportunities to make up for those cases as soon as possible,” she said, noting it will take months to catch up on the backlog, granted there are no other outbreaks.

Siragusa said it’s hard to give a timeline for the backlog with 100 per cent certainty, but she knows the team is working to develop the plans.


When asked if healthcare facilities are even ready to do elective surgeries at this time, Siragusa said all the surgeons and surgical teams are working at different paces.

“We did look at some of the bigger centres, so Brandon, Boundary Trails, Selkirk starting first,” she said, adding some other centres may be holding off or waiting to resume surgeries. 

Siragusa said the goal was never to resume all elective surgeries on one day in particular, but rather building things up over time.

“It’s really about building up capacity and making sure that we can manage again longer term, so starting slow and building up,” she said.