The Health Care Action Plan identifies immediate government actions to build a better health care system that supports patients needing care while setting clear measurements for success.

Alberta's health care system is not currently able to meet growing demand despite the excellent work of doctors, nurses and other staff. Urgent reforms will focus on strengthening the health care system so Albertans can access world-class care, when and where they need it most.


Learn more about the urgent actions we are taking as part of the Health Care Action Plan.

April progress highlights

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Faster EMS response by 44% metro and urban, and 33% communities over 3000

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Fewer Albertans getting surgeries outside recommended time by 20%

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More health care frontline and support staff by more than 400

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Shorter ER wait times to see a physician by 17%

Goal 1: Decrease emergency room wait times


Actions to take

  • Attract and train additional doctors and nurses to reduce wait times in our emergency rooms.
  • Shorten the transfer time for patients who need care.

Indicators of success

  • Time from entering the emergency room to receiving the appropriate level of care required for that patient.
  • What we've done

    • AHS opened 255 new acute care beds (non-ICU) across the province.
    • More beds in care facilities are opening, which is freeing more hospital beds for urgent care:
      • 36 new transition beds for people discharged from ERs in Edmonton who are experiencing homelessness
      • 55 new long-term care beds
      • 292 new designated supportive living beds
      • 38 new community addiction and mental health beds
  • 90-day results

    • In January 2023, more Albertans received care sooner when they visited the ER compared with November 2022:
      • wait time to see a doctor in ER went down by 10% provincially
      • time spent in the ER for admitted patients has been reduced by about 5%
    • Number of people waiting in a hospital bed for continuing care decreased from 253 in November to 179 in January, providing access to 74 acute care beds and getting those who no longer need acute care to a more appropriate care environment.
  • April update

    • Emergency department wait times are coming down and more Albertans are being transferred to the appropriate care settings faster.
    • Average provincial wait times to see a doctor in an emergency department has been reduced by 17%, from 7.1 hours to 5.9 hours from November to March.
    • AHS placed more hospital patients into a continuing care living option within 30 days of no longer requiring hospital care in March compared to April 2022.
    • AHS opened about 1,250 new continuing care spaces in the last fiscal year, and another 250 are expected to open before the end of June 2023.

Goal 2: Improve emergency medical services response times


Actions to take

  • Encourage paramedics to determine whether or not a patient needs to be transferred to ER by ambulance.
  • Ensure more appropriate modes of transportation are used for non-emergency transfers.
  • Fast-track ambulance transfers at the ER so paramedics are available for more calls.
  • Empower EMS dispatch to transfer non-emergency calls from 911 to Health Link.

Indicators of success

  • Time from call to ambulance arrival.
  • Patient offload time at ER.
  • Number of less urgent calls handled by ambulance.
  • Number of calls "stepped-down" from 911 to Health Link.
  • What we've done

    • Adding 20 ambulances during peak hours in Calgary and Edmonton, expected to start this spring.
    • Fast-tracking ambulance transfers at emergency departments by moving less urgent patients to hospital waiting areas.
    • Freeing up paramedics and ambulances by: 
      • quickly connecting 911 callers without a serious or life-threatening emergency to a registered nurse at 811 Health Link for further assessment
      • contracting appropriately-trained resources for non-emergency transfers between facilities in Edmonton and Calgary
    • Transporting medically-stable patients by other methods will free up about 70 ambulances each day to respond to emergency calls.
  • 90-day results

    • Ambulances responded faster to the most urgent calls in January compared with November. EMS provincial average response time for most urgent calls has improved by 22% in metro and urban areas and 10% in remote areas.
      • 17 minutes in metro and urban areas, down from 21.8 minutes
      • 19.2 minutes in communities over 3,000 residents, down from 21.5 minutes
      • 34.9 minutes in rural communities under 3,000 residents, down from 36 minutes
      • 57.5 minutes in remote communities, down from 63.9 minutes
    • Red alerts, which indicate a lack of ambulance availability at a point in time, were substantially reduced in Edmonton and Calgary.
      • In Edmonton, 81 alerts were issued for a total of 8 hours in January, down from 1,092 red alerts issued for a total of 39.7 hours in November.
      • Calgary had 134 alerts for a total of 3.2 hours in January, down from 328 alerts for a total of 8.1 hours.
    • 1,600 callers with non-urgent conditions were transferred from 911 to Health Link registered nurses, over a 3-week period since the program launched in January.
    • More than 4,000 non-clinical trips were handled by community partners instead of paramedics since launching a province-wide program, compared to 2,880 previously.
  • April update

    Emergency response times have improved significantly and more ambulances are staying in their home communities.

    Lowering EMS response time 

    Since November 2022, EMS response times for the most urgent calls are shorter:

    • 12 minutes in metro and urban areas, down from 21.8 minutes in November 2022, a 44% improvement.
    • 14.5 minutes in communities with over 3,000 residents, down from 21.5 minutes in November 2022, a 33% improvement.
    • 33.2 minutes in rural communities with under 3,000 residents, down from 36 minutes in November 2022, an 8% improvement.
    • 39.6 minutes in remote communities, down from 63.9 minutes in November 2022, a 38% improvement.

    Freeing up paramedics from non-emergency calls 

    • Since mid-January, 2,500 people who called 911 for EMS were transferred to Health Link and directed to care that did not require an ambulance.

    Streamlining EMS transfer of care in emergency departments

    • AHS launched the EMS Return to Service initiative in March 2022. Now in place in 5 areas of the province, the initiative supports paramedics to safely transfer patient care to emergency department staff within a 45-minute target. Since the program began:
      • the amount of time paramedics are spending in an emergency department decreased from 3.6 hours in November 2022, to 1.2 hours in April 2023, a 66% improvement
      • red alerts have fallen dramatically in Calgary and Edmonton
    • The Return to Service initiative is also keeping ambulance crews in their home community:
      • Ambulances from outside Calgary responded into the city 58 times between April 10 and 16, 2023, down from the rolling 52-week average of 246.
      • Ambulances from outside Edmonton responded into the city 24 times between April 10 and 16, 2023, down from the rolling 52-week average of 154.

    Improving transfers between facilities

    • In the Central Zone, a new inter-facility transfer program is putting 10 new ambulances on the road to support the transfer of stable patients with non-urgent conditions between facilities. The first of these ambulances was put into service on April 18, 2023, with the remaining 9 to be added by July 2023.

Goal 3: Reduce wait times for surgeries


Actions to take

  • Increase surgeries at underutilized operating rooms, mainly in rural areas.
  • Continue to leverage publicly funded surgeries at chartered surgical facilities.

Indicators of success

  • Utilization rate of operating rooms at AHS hospitals.
  • Proportion of surgeries occurring within clinically acceptable wait times.
  • Surgery wait times.
  • What we've done

    • Adding 3,000 more joint, hip and knee replacement procedures at 2 surgical facilities in Calgary, a 21% increase over 2021-22.
    • Adding 3,000 orthopedic surgeries at an Edmonton surgical facility, a 17% increase over 2021-22.
  • 90-day results

    • The number of Albertans waiting for surgery longer than clinically recommended decreased to 35,595 as of February 20, from 39,246 in November.
    • Nearly 7,000 more surgeries, including orthopedic and eye surgeries, were done at chartered surgical facilities in January compared to November.
    • About 800 Albertans who were waiting at least 3 times longer than the clinically recommended time had their surgeries since November.
  • April update

    • About 292,500 surgeries were completed in 2022-23. That’s more than 5,600 Albertans accessing surgery every week. 
    • Currently, there are 11,190 fewer patients waiting longer than clinically recommended compared to this time last year, an improvement of over 25%.
    • More cancer patients are getting their surgeries faster and within clinically recommended timelines:
      • AHS completed about 22,100 cancer surgeries in 2022-23, compared to about 20,040 pre-pandemic, a 10% increase. 
      • Nearly 65% of these were completed within clinically recommended wait times.

Goal 4: Empower frontline workers to deliver health care


Actions to take

  • Restore decision-making to the local level and to local health professionals.
  • Incentivize regional innovation to provide more medical services.
  • Create a health care system that attracts more health care professionals to Alberta.

Indicators of success

  • Health service wait times.
  • Health professional-to-population ratios.
  • What we've done

    • AHS is adding 420 more positions in emergency rooms, acute care, EMS and community care, on top of the 400 added since November, including:
      • 114 full-time nursing staff for emergency department teams to speed up EMS transfers and free up paramedics to respond to more calls
      • 80 additional full-time paramedics positions
      • transitioning 70 current temporary full-time EMS positions to regular full-time
  • 90-day results

    • Alberta Health Services added nearly 400 frontline and support workers since November, including physicians, nurses and paramedics since November, including:
      • 28 physicians in rural Alberta
      • 278 registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and health care aides
      • 39 EMS front-line staff, including paramedics and emergency communications officers
  • April update

    Alberta continues to hire more doctors, nurses, paramedics, nurse practitioners and other health allied professionals across the province.

    • Nearly 800 more nursing staff were hired in 2022 and another 300 nurses have been hired so far in 2023.
    • AHS hired 85% of all registered nurses who graduated in Alberta in 2022-2023.
    • EMS hired 39 front-line staff, including paramedics and emergency communications officers between November 2022 and January 2023. Overall, EMS hired 457 new staff members in 2022, including 341 paramedics.