Alberta commits $1.25B in funding for 55K additional surgeries to eliminate backlog
Health Minister Tyler Shandro says Alberta expects to eliminate its current surgical backlog of approximately 36,000 procedures by the end of the year. (file)
CALGARY -- Following an aggressive attempt to address the backlog of surgeries in the province post-pandemic, Alberta's government plans to increase the number of procedures conducted in the coming fiscal year.
On Friday, Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced Alberta's plan to conduct 345,000 surgeries between April 1, 2021 and April 1, 2022. On an average year, prior to the arrival of COVID-19, approximately 290,000 surgical procedures would take place in Alberta.
In its 2021 budget, the province allocated $1.25 billion from its COVID contingency to address the surgical backlog and $120 million in operation funds for the Alberta Surgical Initiative.
Shandro says the ramping up of surgeries will eliminate the backlog of postponed surgeries in the province and is an initial step toward the future goal of ensuring all procedures take place in the recommended timeframe.
"We promised Albertans shorter wait times for surgery and we’re going to deliver," said Shandro. "The pandemic has forced us to adjust, but it hasn’t changed our commitment to giving Albertans the best access to scheduled surgery in Canada.
"AHS, Covenant Health and chartered surgical facilities are already doing more surgeries in some areas. Going forward, we’re going to eliminate the backlog this year and press on toward the goal of the Alberta Surgical Initiative – to provide all scheduled surgeries within clinically acceptable times by 2023."
A recent study by SecondStreet.org, a public policy thinktank, suggests 16,893 surgeries were postponed in Alberta between March and June of 2020, near the onset of the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic to the province.
According to the province, the current backlog of surgeries in Alberta is approximately 36,000 and the backlog is expected to be eliminated by the end of this year.