Kathleen Wynne says gender reassignment wait list 'of concern'

Premier Kathleen Wynne says the health care system needs to change to cut down on the length of time transgender people in Ontario have to wait for gender reassignment surgeries.

Nearly 970 patients in Ontario on waiting list for gender-reassignment surgeries

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said Thursday that she is concerned by wait times faced by Ontarians seeking gender reassignment surgeries. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

Premier Kathleen Wynne says the lengthy wait times transgender people in Ontario face for gender reassignment surgeries are "of concern."

The Ontario Health Insurance Plan does not cover gender reassignment surgeries unless the patient is referred by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, which can take months or years before patients are seen for initial appointments.

Wynne says that health-care transformation is required as many types of procedures, including gender reassignment surgeries, become necessary across Ontario's aging population.

CAMH president Catherine Zahn says the situation is a "supply and demand issue," with demand for gender reassignment surgeries quickly rising while the facility remains the only site in Ontario that can approve patients.

Zahn says there are approximately 970 patients on the waiting list for gender-reassignment surgeries, and the facility now receives up to 100 referrals per month.

She says recent media attention given to transgender issues, such as Caitlyn Jenner's recent Vanity Fair spread, may help explain an uptick in referrals and the increasing public awareness of gender reassignment surgeries.