Quebec Announces $30 Million for Bariatric Programs

Regular readers of these pages know my concern about the lack of access to bariatric surgery in Canada. It is estimated that currently demand for bariatric surgery in Canada outstrips supply by around 500-fold.

Now, following not too far on the heels of Ontario ($75 Million for Bariatrics in Ontario), Quebec’s health minister Yves Bolduc announced almost 30 Million in funding for bariatric programs (Click here for press release in French).

There are currently an estimated 300-thousand quebecers who suffer from morbid obesity, for which the only effective treatment is bariatric surgery. Currently, the typical wait period for such surgery in Quebec is between five and seven years, during which time the patient is exposed to a host of potentially-deadly diseases, including type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, bone disease, and cancer.

The minister hopes that with this influx of new money, waiting times can be reduced to six months. The plan is to ramp up the number of surgeries from currently around 800 to around 3000 per year for the province within two years. Bariatric Centres of Excellence will be established in Quebec City and at McGill University in Montreal. The announcement includes $3 Mill for installation of a bariatric MRI machine in Montreal.

While I am not sure that even this announcement will come close to addressing the actual demand, it is certainly a step in the right direction.

Obesity surgery is not just the only effective treatment for most people with severe obesity, it is also associated with a marked reduction in morbidity and makes more economic sense than many other things that are done in our health system.

But remember, this is not just about increasing the number of surgeons – successful surgery requires a full complement of primary, secondary and tertiary allied health care teams to look after these complex patients (Obesity Surgery is not Just About Surgery).

On this note, I will be meeting later today with representatives of Ontario’s Ministry of Health to discuss plans for a bariatric surgery registry.

Hamilton, Ontario