These new contracts will focus on Edmonton and Calgary where there are established facilities experienced in performing a high volume of procedures. The contracts will increase capacity for surgeries, decrease the waitlist, and save costs per procedure. This work is part of the Alberta Surgical Initiative (ASI) to ensure all Albertans receive scheduled surgeries within clinically appropriate targets.

“Through this highly-competitive process, we’re able to secure high-quality ophthalmology care for Albertans at excellent pricing compared with other jurisdictions across Canada. This expansion will allow for an increase in safe ophthalmology procedures, while delivering savings that can be reinvested to continue expanding surgical access for Albertans.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

“Patients are at the heart of all our decision-making, and these independent facilities provide safe, low-risk surgeries without cost to patients. These changes will improve access, reduce wait times for surgery for patients and provide capacity for procedures that require hospital care.”

Verna Yiu, president and CEO, Alberta Health Services

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is entering into negotiations with the four CSFs following a public request for proposal (RFP) process launched in April 2021. AHS expects these CSFs to be providing additional ophthalmological surgeries in Edmonton and Calgary Zones no later than January 2022.

Ophthalmology surgeries will also continue to be provided in regional sites such as the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Grande Prairie, Red Deer Regional Hospital and Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge. AHS will continue to perform more complex ophthalmology surgeries in Calgary and Edmonton hospitals as well as these community settings. There is, for example, a history of research, innovation and excellence at the Eye Institute at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

To continue to expand surgical access for Albertans, an orthopedic CSF RFP is expected to be issued shortly. Additional RFP opportunities for CSF providers in other regional centres and for different types of surgeries are expected in the fall.

In addition to increasing capacity at CSFs, Alberta’s government has invested $120 million in capital funding over three-years in AHS-owned facilities under the Alberta Surgical Initiative to reduce wait times for more complex surgeries that cannot be performed in CSFs.

Quick facts

  • Out of 13 proposals submitted, two have been identified as preferred proponents in the Calgary Zone, and two were identified in the Edmonton Zone. These privately run, publicly funded facilities will increase surgical access while maintaining high-quality care for Albertans.
  • The final cost per procedure will be determined through contract negotiations. AHS will go through a due diligence exercise prior to initiating negotiations and finalizing the award. Costs will be less than historical costs in-hospital, and volume increases will allow better pricing per procedure. Savings will be re-invested into additional surgeries.
  • The total spend for ophthalmological surgeries for in-hospital and CSF facility fees in 2019-2020 was approximately $34 million.
  • As of July 7, there are 13,432 patients waiting for cataract surgeries in the province, with 56 per cent of those waiting outside of the clinically appropriate target wait time. The target is within six to 16 weeks, depending on the severity of illness or injury.
  • Surgical wait times have been impacted by the pandemic, with the total surgical backlog in Alberta estimated at approximately 40,000. AHS is currently working through the province’s surgical backlog and is leading the country in eliminating this backlog. AHS is now exceeding 100 per cent of monthly pre-pandemic surgical volumes.