“Alberta’s government is committed to ensuring everyone has access to the care they need, where and when they need it. We promised Albertans that we would work to expand surgical capacity and lower wait times, and using chartered surgical facilities is a vital part of delivering on that promise.

“Chartered surgical facilities are part of our public health care system. These are surgeries paid for by the province, just like surgeries that happen in a hospital, and they have been a part of our system since the 1990s.

“Surgeries are scheduled by Alberta Health Services (AHS), based on the assessment and clinical judgement of doctors, so that Albertans who have the most urgent need and who have been waiting the longest get their surgeries first. These surgeries happen at the most appropriate venue – either a hospital or chartered surgical facility. It is all one publicly funded system.

“The benefits of chartered surgical facilities are many, including allowing the system to increase capacity overall. With these facilities set up to handle more routine surgeries, they can complete a larger number than at hospitals alone. This also allows hospitals to handle more complex and urgent surgeries, which is exactly what they should be doing.

“This system is working to lower wait times and expand capacity in our publicly funded system to provide Albertans with these surgeries as quickly as possible. One needs to look no further than the progress made to lower wait times for cataract surgeries. In 2019, wait times had soared to more than 19 weeks. Wait times are now down to 10 weeks and we are making progress in other areas as well.

“Specific procedures are contracted by AHS to happen in chartered surgical facilities. A facility provides space, equipment and a care team. AHS assigns the surgeons and anesthesiologists, and the surgeons schedule patients through the centralized booking system that holds the complete waiting list. AHS also schedules anesthesiologists to support the highest priority surgeries, and they are always available for emergency and urgent situations.

“All of this to say that surgeries scheduled at chartered surgical facilities are part of the public system. They are not competition. These facilities are safe, as they follow the same rigorous safety standards as a hospital. And they let the health care system grow its capacity to help more Albertans get the care they need when they need it. This was true in the 1990s when the facilities were first created. It was true when the Opposition was in government. And it is true today.

“There are many challenges in the health care system right now that require us to roll up our sleeves and find real solutions. I am working with health care professionals, AHS administrator Dr. John Cowell, post-secondary institutions and others to build a better health care system. I ask the Opposition to support this work that gets more Albertans the surgeries they need instead of focusing on an untrue premise around what they believe chartered surgical facilities to be.”