Albertans are waiting too long for the medical care they need, including having to wait for non-emergency CTs and MRIs. Overall, patient wait times for both CT and MRI scans have dropped despite a sharp increase in demand, but Alberta’s government is committed to making sure those wait times continue to decrease.

To continue to cut those wait times, Budget 2023 provides a $12-million funding increase to provide more medical imaging services throughout the province. This increase means that AHS will be able to perform 41,000 more CT scans, for an annual total of 540,000, and 12,000 more MRI scans, for an annual total of 255,000.

“Albertans deserve appropriate access to scans when they need them, and government has made this a priority. Working together with AHS and other community partners, we are putting needed resources in place to further drive down wait times and improve diagnostic imaging services.”

Jason Copping, Minister of Health

Improving wait times involves looking at the overall need for diagnostic imaging services and providing the right level of service based on community demand. AHS has also committed to recruiting new staff to perform additional CT and MRI scans in AHS facilities.

“With this additional funding to support the CT and MRI Action Plan, AHS will continue to work hard at bringing wait times down and improving access to these important diagnostic services. We appreciate the investment, knowing it supports the work of our teams to increase the number of scans possible, and therefore, the number of Albertans served.”

Mauro Chies, president and CEO, Alberta Health Services

In addition to staffing initiatives, AHS continues to use their CT and MRI Implementation Plan to determine where need is the greatest. The plan takes data from previous years to more accurately estimate where demand pressures may occur and ensure appropriate use of imaging. The CT and MRI Implementation Plan will help minimize wait times, decrease costs and better manage demand.

Budget 2023 secures Alberta’s future by transforming the health care system to meet people’s needs, supporting Albertans with the high cost of living, keeping our communities safe and driving the economy with more jobs, quality education and continued diversification.

Quick facts

  • AHS provides funding for diagnostic imaging and non-invasive diagnostic tests performed within AHS facilities and all publicly funded MRI and CT/PET scans at AHS facilities.

    • Where extra capacity is needed, AHS contracts with community providers and funds diagnostic imaging and procedures by a radiologist in any facility outside of AHS.

  • In 2021-22, AHS performed:

    • 508,071 CT exams

    • 235,241 MRI exams

  • The additional dollars from Budget 2023 brings the total Alberta Health Services (AHS) budget for the CT and MRI Action Plan to $45 million.

  • Despite an increase in demand, the number of Albertans waiting for a CT scan has decreased by 23 per cent and wait times for an MRI have decreased by 19 per cent since early 2020.

  • Discussions to establish contracts with service providers across Alberta are ongoing.