NDP health critic Adiran Dix, left, and Alana Downey at a Vancouver news conference Thursday regarding cancelled Lower Mainland surgeries. (CBC)

The B.C. New Democrats are accusing the provincial government of using the Olympics as an excuse to save money by cancelling about 2,400 elective surgeries.

Opposition health critic Adrian Dix said Thursday the cuts have more to do with mismanagement of the health-care budget than the Games.

There will be one-third fewer elective surgeries than normal in February and March in Vancouver and Fraser Valley hospitals, Dix said.

"Generally, your life doesn't depend on [elective surgery]. Still, if you are waiting for one, it's a big deal."

Local health authorities are using the Olympics as a smokescreen when cuts in funding are the real cause of the cancellations, Dix said.

A spokeswoman for the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority said the cancelled surgeries actually have been prompted by the Games.

"By having this reduction we will have space in the [operating rooms] should we need surgery capacity," said senior media relations officer Anna Marie D'Angelo.

The health authorities know from other cities that have staged the Olympics that the demand for elective surgeries drops during the Games, D'Angelo said.

Dix said that didn't make sense.

"Nobody, when they are in pain needing surgery, is going to not want their surgery because they want to see the preliminaries of the luge."

One Chilliwack woman who appeared at Dix's news conference said she had been awaiting reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy last summer but had been told the operating rooms were needed in case there was an Olympic injury.

"I would challenge anybody to think how they would feel if this was their mother or your daughter sitting in my place right now," said Alana Downey. "Would you be OK with it?"

Barbara Roberts is waiting for surgery to replace a hip.

But Roberts, 91, said she didn't blame the Olympics.

"I just assumed the government had a lack of funds or something," she said.

Vancouver Coastal Health had no funding issues, according to D'Angelo, adding the authority is on its way to a balanced budget this year.