Alberta Health Services (AHS) apparently wants to gauge the interest and ability of independent facilities to provide more publicly-funded surgeries.

The government says it’s an effort to try to reduce wait times in the province.

Last year, 42 of 80 non-hospital surgical facilities in the province provided about 40,000 publicly funded surgeries under contract with AHS.

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health, says the government is eager to hear from independent providers who want to help improve access. “They already perform thousands of surgeries for Albertans, providing safe care that’s convenient for patients and reduces costs. We’re going to make the best use of hospitals and independent providers to give every patient the right care in the right setting, and give Albertans the best access to surgery in Canada.”

Officials want to see if they have the capacity to perform more procedures starting as early as this fall.

Meanwhile, the Opposition NDP isn’t happy accusing the UCP government of looking at bringing in “American-style” health care.

Health Critic David Shepherd says this is another step on the wrong path by Premier Jason Kenney. “In addition to expanding on procedures that were previously done in private clinics on a limited basis, Jason Kenney is now planning on moving hip and knee replacement surgeries out of public hospitals and into private facilities.”

Respondents have until Feb. 28 to submit their expressions of interest.