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To: Send a message to Premier Ford, Health Minister Jones, and Finance Minister Bethlenfalvy

Support Access to Spine Care in Ontario

To the Honourable Premier Doug Ford, Health Minister Sylvia Jones and Finance Minister Peter Bethenfalvy,

I am writing to you today to urge you to take immediate actions to address the health-care crisis reported on June 21 and 25, 2023, by the CBC national news health reporter Lauren Pelley. You must immediately address the unacceptable, ever-increasing, long wait times of years and wait lists of complex spine patients. Immediately address the inequities in the Ministry of Health's compensation process for surgeons of complex spine surgery and increase funding to Spine Care in Ontario's public hospitals to provide timely, equitable, access to complex spine surgery with equal priority given to both common and complex spine surgeries.

Sincerely, Concerned Canadians in Ontario

Why is this important?

People in Ontario are forced to wait years for complex spinal surgeries in debilitating pain, suffering from a diminishing quality of life and risking life-long consequences and deterioration in function. These patients are all waiting unacceptably and inhumanely longer for surgery then medically recommended. Some with severe Scoliosis, with degenerative curving spines causing severe pain and limiting mobility, whose rotating rib cages, start to squeeze the very organs they're meant to protect, causing deterioration of lung and heart function.

A handful of understaffed specialized spine surgeons are willing to help but face significant barriers. The government discourages, disincentivizes, these surgeons from performing complex surgeries by forcing them to wait months or longer to be paid and instead incentivizes them to perform government prioritized common surgeries which guarantee fair and timely compensation, further lengthening the wait, pain and suffering for patients who need complex surgery.

In 2022, a lack of collaboration between the Ministry of Health's adjudicators and these health providers, has resulted in unfair assessments and compensation of complex cases, consequently furthering the wait for patients and leaving some in limbo.

CBC''s Pelley interviewed 44 yr old Christine Kaschuba, mother of three, of Whitby Ontario, waiting over three years for surgery. Her spine is curved severely at 70 degrees in the shape of a C, the most common Scoliosis spine curvature. “The pain is unrelenting...while her lungs struggle to take in full, deep breaths. Most nights...she just wants to close her eyes and not wake up.” (1)

My name is Karen and I am a baby boomer. I have lived in Ontario all my life. I was very fortunate and grateful to have had a complex spinal surgery to correct my serious scoliosis back in 2001 by highly-specialized spinal surgeon Dr. Stephen Lewis at Toronto Western Hospital. I believe I would not be alive today if I did not have that life-altering surgery. I did not have to wait years for the surgery and would have seriously considered suicide or MAID if I had to wait that long in such excruciating pain with a very poor quality of life. So I was shocked and extremely upset to watch the CBC national news on this health-care crisis in Ontario; (1)

These patients, hundreds, are being discriminated against by being denied equitable and timely access to spine surgery. Some, are just teenagers and very young adults. Ontario's Excellent Care for All Act is definitely not for all. This is not the universal health care Canadians are so proud of.

If you are an Ontario resident, please go one step further, download, sign and mail with postage, this non-partisan Ontario Legislative petition, recently co-sponsored by Green Party Leader MPP Mike Schreiner, be sure to put your full address with postal code. Click on!ApJ7tghCUbulzQkiBzErIqvqKZ2c?e=r7XFUk Updated 2024 Access to Spine Care

(1) Health CBC Investigates June 25/23, "Patients wait in pain as a surgeon fights to get paid" CBC Toronto, June 13/23 -Ontario will have $22.6B in 'excess funds' that could be used on programs or debt,
FAO says Impact on health related quality of life of adult spinal deformity (ASD) compared with other chronic conditions, Eur Spine J, Jan 2015
'Medical and health policy providers should be aware of the impact of adult spinal deformity (ASD) on health-related quality of life (HRQL). A large international study comparing Adult Spinal Deformity patients with patients with other chronic diseases such as arthritis, chronic lung disease, diabetes and congestive heart failure, reported that surgical candidates with ASD displayed the worst HRQL scores.' Does pulmonary function improve after surgical correction of adult idiopathic scoliosis?, Spine Deform, Nov 9 2021 “Pulmonary function improved in patients with preoperative pulmonary impairment of < 65% in %FVC and < 80% in %FEV1, and the real improvement was limited to patients with severe preoperative impairment.” Identification of an increased lifetime risk of
major adverse cardiovascular events in UK Biobank participants with scoliosis, Open Heart,
May 10 2023 “Structural changes caused by spinal curvature may impact the organs within the thoracic cage, including the heart. ...This work identifies, in an adult population, evidence for altered cardiac function and an increased lifetime risk of MACE (major adverse cardiovascular events) in participants with scoliosis.”
Scoliosis Research Society Pehrsson K, Larsson S, Oden A, Nachemson A.
Long-term follow-up of patients with untreated scoliosis. A study of mortality, causes of death, and symptoms. Spine 1992; 17: 1091± Morbidity and radiographic
outcomes of severe scoliosis of 90° or more: a comparison of hybrid with total pedicle screw instrumentation, Journal of Children's Orthopaedics, Aug 8, 2014 “Untreated severe scoliosis of 70° or more is associated with increased mortality as compared with the normal population [1]. Most patients with scoliosis of 60° or more present with major spinal deformity, restrictive lung disease, and, if left untreated, rapid progression of the deformity.” Neurological symptoms and deficits in adults with scoliosis who present to a surgical clinic: incidence and association with the choice of operative versus nonoperative management, NeuroSurg Spine Oct 9 2008

How it will be delivered

My hope is that this petition (as the Ontario government does not recognize digital petitions) will result in hundreds or more signatures on the downloadable non-partisan paper petition (first edited by an NDP Health Critic researcher) sponsored by an Ontario MPP to be sent to the Ontario Legislature. As well, I will deliver this digital petition by email to the Ontario government. Please help.



2023-11-05 10:11:44 -0500

100 signatures reached

2023-11-05 09:05:35 -0500

50 signatures reached

2023-11-04 23:42:07 -0400

25 signatures reached

2023-10-19 11:19:29 -0400

10 signatures reached