The UCP government says Albertans will have the best access to scheduled surgery in the country by 2023. That’s in spite of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Between March 18th and May 4th all scheduled surgeries were put on hold here in the province. This resulted in a 60% reduction in surgeries. To date though, the province says 88% of that surgical backlog has now been cut.

In order to meet wait time targets, new and existing chartered surgical facilities will also be significantly expanded to provide more publicly-funded surgeries, something the government says will leave hospital operating rooms available to perform more complex surgeries.

“Our platform commitment to reduce surgical wait times will be met, pandemic or no pandemic. Reducing the backlog by 88% is a good first step, but we will need to push even harder in the months to come,” said Health Minister Tyler Shandro during a news conference on Friday (Sept. 11)

This expansion is expected to occur in both urban and rural communities across the province as a request for proposals generates new contracts.

On top of that, Shandro also announced an Indigenous funding grant stream that will open up the opportunity for First Nations communities to establish a chartered surgical facility on-reserve.

Six First Nations communities will be eligible for grants of up to $50,000 including the Blood Tribe and Siksika nations.