As part of the Alberta Surgical Initiative, Alberta Health Services (AHS) aims to schedule an additional 1,350 surgeries in the central zone and about 1,250 more procedures in the south zone, ranging from hip and knee to general surgeries, by inviting chartered surgical facilities to submit proposals.

These procedures are expected to boost publicly funded surgeries in central zone communities such as Red Deer and in communities in the south zone like Lethbridge and Medicine Hat by five per cent. Moving more orthopedic and other general surgeries into chartered surgical facilities also frees up operating room space in hospitals to provide more complex surgeries.

“Albertans are waiting too long for hip and knee replacements and other types of surgeries. That’s why we are moving forward with our plan to deliver more surgeries for Albertans closer to their home and within the clinically appropriate period. Alberta’s government remains committed to expanding health-care system capacity and making sure Albertans get much better value for their health-care dollars.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“Adding more surgery capacity in central Alberta and communities south of Calgary means more Albertans can get their hip and knee replacements and other types of surgeries sooner and live a better life with less pain and limitations. We are funding more surgeries at chartered surgical facilities and hospitals to fulfil our promise to bring down wait times to the waiting period recommended by medical experts.”

Jason Copping, Minister of Health

“Patients are at the heart of each decision we make at AHS, and we know Albertans want to access care in their communities. These requests for proposals seek opportunities for procedures in rural and regional areas to improve access, reduce wait times for surgery for patients and help Albertans receive their procedure anywhere in the province that can provide the service quickly and effectively.”

Mauro Chies, interim president and CEO, Alberta Health Services

Alberta Health and AHS have been increasing surgical capacity in hospitals and the number of surgeries at chartered surgical facilities as part of the Alberta Surgical Initiative. Main operating room surgical suite hours have been increased at hospitals, which is steadily reducing the surgical wait-list. Budget 2022 provides $133 million over three years to expand and build new operating rooms in hospitals across the province, including in Calgary, Edmonton, Edson, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Rocky Mountain House.

Through requests for proposals issued last year for chartered surgical facilities in Calgary and Edmonton, AHS is targeting about 30,000 ophthalmology surgeries in these facilities this fiscal year. In addition, AHS is targeting about 6,000 orthopedic surgeries in chartered surgical facilities per year, and contracts are being finalized.

Chartered surgical facilities have been offering publicly funded surgeries to Albertans since the 1990s. Prior to launching the Alberta Surgical Initiative in 2019, about 39,000 procedures were performed at chartered surgical facilities – 13 per cent of surgeries in Alberta. In 2021-22, about 55,000 surgeries were performed in these facilities, or 20 per cent of surgeries.

Quick facts

  • On Sept. 7, Alberta Health Services is issuing two requests for proposal for the central zone and south zone.
  • The surgical wait-list currently sits at eight per cent above pre-pandemic levels. The surgical wait-list for adults is about 73,750, compared with about 68,000 in February 2020, before the pandemic.
  • Chartered surgical facilities are public health care. The province pays for the procedures and they follow the same safety and professional standards as any hospital. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta accredits chartered surgical facilities for quality and safety standards.
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