The situation might be a lot worse than everyone thought. While Canada's COVID-19 numbers tell one story, it's possible they're not entirely correct. New research suggests that there could be way more cases in even just two provinces.

Researchers from the University of Montreal applied a statistical model to Ontario and Quebec, only to find that the actual number of cases could be close to half a million.

"Our results show how differences in testing standards across provinces can greatly mask the true severity of outbreak," Joshua Lewis, one of the study's authors told the University's news team.

"The actual number of infections in Quebec and Ontario is remarkably similar despite Quebec having nearly twice as many officially reported cases."

The original research applied a statistical model to COVID-19 prevalence in the United States. The research found that there could be an average of 12 additional cases for every diagnosed patient.

When the model was applied to both provinces, the researchers found that there could be somewhere close to 256,130 in Quebec and 220,602 in Ontario.

"How widespread is COVID-19 in the general population, really?" Lewis said.

"That’s what we need to get a much better picture of. It’s important for policymakers who have to make difficult choices about how long to impose costly social distancing measures."

As of May 1, the official recorded number of cases in Quebec and Ontario were 27,538 and 16,608, respectively.

Ontario's testing rates, in particular, were lower than desired for the first half of April, and Premier Doug Ford was not impressed at how the province was falling behind.

In both provinces, though, the majority of reported cases were coming from long-term care homes, a crisis that has prompted both to request military intervention.

The research comes at a time when both the federal and provincial governments have been in talks on how to start reopening economies.

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