About 70 per cent of cancer patients received their surgeries within the clinically recommended time in the 2021-22 fiscal year, compared with about 60 per cent in 2018-19. Cancer surgery numbers went up to about 22,500 from 20,000, a 12.5 per cent increase over pre-COVID-19 levels.

“The surge in cancer surgeries surpassing pre-pandemic levels is a remarkable accomplishment and shows meaningful results from the Alberta Surgical Initiative. Access to early detection and treatment is vital to improving the odds of overcoming a cancer diagnosis. Knowing wait times for cancer surgeries are decreasing in spite of the pandemic is a relief to patients in the most difficult times in their lives. I would like to thank all the physicians and health-care workers who are essential to this work.”

Jason Copping, Minister of Health

“The number of people being diagnosed with cancer is increasing each year due to an aging population combined with population growth. Cancer treatment and care remains one of our highest priorities, and these procedures were prioritized throughout the pandemic to make sure that those who have the most urgent need go first.”

Dr. Lloyd Mack, medical lead for Cancer Surgery Alberta, Alberta Health Services

“I was booked in for surgery at the end of September, at the height of the pandemic, and I was worried about surgery cancellations. I started looking elsewhere just in case my surgery was cancelled, but the delays were happening across the country. My surgery was delayed by a week but I still got in at the end of September.”

Susan Ruddick, Alberta Health Services patient advisor who underwent cancer surgery in September 2021

“The increased volume we are seeing in cancer surgical activity is attributed to the excellent work of AHS’ staff and physicians, who continue to bring their best for Albertans.”

Dr. Francois Belanger, vice-president of quality and chief medical officer, Alberta Health Services

As part of Alberta’s Surgical Initiative, Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services (AHS) have been increasing surgical capacity in hospitals and the number of surgeries at chartered surgical facilities. Main operating room surgical suite hours have been increased at hospitals, which is steadily reducing the surgical wait-list. AHS is performing an additional 30,000 ophthalmology procedures and 6,000 orthopedic procedures this fiscal year through new contracts with chartered surgical facilities. This is in addition to providing quicker access to urology, orthopedic and ophthalmology surgeries by implementing a central access and intake model called the Alberta facilitated access to specialized treatment program.

Quick facts

  • The surgical wait-list currently sits at 6.7 per cent above pre-pandemic levels. The total surgical wait-list for adults is about 72,600, compared with about 68,000 in February 2020, before the pandemic.
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