Variation In Access To Bariatric Surgery in Canada

sharma-obesity-canadaBased on the recent report from the Canadian Institute of Health Information on bariatric surgery in Canada, it is evident that there is considerable (almost 800%) variation in access to bariatric surgery for people with severe obesity living across Canada.

While the overall rate of surgeries in 2012-2013 for all Canadians was 4.9/ 1000 individuals with a BMI>35 (2010), this number was as high as 7.9/1,000 in Quebec and as low as 1.1./1,000 in Nova Scotia.

The only other province that comes anywhere close to the rate of surgery in Quebec is Ontario with 6.0/1,000.

The middle field, ranging from 3.0 – 3.6/1,000, is held by Newfoundland and Labrador (3.0), New Brunswick (3.1) and Alberta (3.6).

The lowest numbers, ranging from 1.1 – 1.8/1,000, are in Nova Scotia (1.1), Saskatchewan (1.7), British Columbia (1,7) and Manitoba (1.8).

To catch up with the current rate of surgery in Quebec, Alberta would need to perform an additional 613 procedures a year, while BC would need an additional 649 and Nova Scotia an additional 383 per year.

Overall, bringing the rate of surgery across Canada to the current rate in Quebec, would require an additional 3,666 surgeries per year.

Remember, even in Quebec we are talking about only 7.9 patients out of 1,000 living with a BMI greater than 35 having surgery per year.

Thus, while the overall increase of over 400% for bariatric surgery in Canada sounds impressive, it is important to note that there is considerable inequity in access across jurisdictions.

If I was a Nova Scotian seeking bariatric surgery, I’d sure be moving to Quebec.

Edmonton, AB