Some Albertans are waiting too long for surgeries. That’s why Alberta’s government launched the Health Care Action Plan to improve key areas of health care, including lowering surgery wait times. As part of the plan, the number of surgeries happening every year at hospitals and chartered surgical facilities such as the new facility at Enoch Cree Nation will be increased.

The new facility is expected to open by June 2025 and will offer about 3,000 more publicly funded orthopedic surgeries per year, reducing wait times for Albertans.

“The surgical facility at Enoch Cree Nation is an innovative partnership that will reduce wait times and reflects the government’s commitment to ensure Albertans have access to the care they need when they need it. We will continue the work to bring down wait times even further and deliver surgeries within the clinincally recommended time.”

Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Health

The facility will be one of the first built on First Nation land in Canada, and will be operated by Enoch Cree Nation. The partnership between Enoch Cree Nation and Alberta Health Services (AHS) will support a culturally safe facility that will provide high-quality surgical care for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

“Today’s groundbreaking marks a significant step in making this surgical facility, the first of its kind in Alberta, a reality. This is the first surgical facility to be run by a First Nation and built on their land and is an example of our government’s commitment to working with Indigenous people as equal partners and an important step forward towards reconciliation in Alberta.”

Rick Wilson, Minister of Indigenous Relations

“This partnership is an example of reconciliation in action. Maskêkosihk is supporting the Alberta Surgical Initiative to bring additional capacity to Treaty 6 territory, address surgical wait lists for all Albertans, and ensure that the medical care we deliver together is done so in a way that respects all cultures, including First Nations people who have made this land their home for thousands of years.”

Chief Cody Thomas, Enoch Cree Nation

When a surgeon decides a patient needs surgery, AHS then schedules the surgery and determines whether the patient will have the publicly funded surgery at a hospital or a chartered surgical facility based on several factors, including the type of surgery.

Moving more orthopedic surgeries to chartered surgical facilities frees up operating room space in hospitals to provide more complex surgeries, which reduces wait times for these types of surgeries that require hospital care.

As a result of actions to boost the number of publicly funded surgeries happening at both hospitals and chartered surgical facilities, wait times for hip and knee replacements have significantly improved. As of June 2023, about 56 per cent of hip replacement surgeries were completed within target, compared with 41 per cent in June 2022. For knee replacement surgeries, about 49 per cent were completed within clinically recommended time, compared with 25.5 per cent the previous year.

“Patients are at the centre of all we do and every decision we make at AHS, and we know that Albertans want more access to the surgeries they need. The new surgical facility on the Enoch Cree Nation will help us deliver more orthopedic surgeries to patients in the Edmonton region, improving access to the procedures they need and reducing their wait times.”

Mauro Chies, president and CEO, Alberta Health Services

Quick facts

  • AHS performed 292,500 surgeries in 2022-23, 13,900 more surgeries than the year before. About 51,200 of these surgeries were performed in chartered surgical facilities.
  • Budget 2023 provides an $80-million increase in surgery funding to add 20,000 more surgeries in 2023-24. This is on top of investing $237 million over three years to add and expand operating rooms at hospitals across Alberta.
  • Enoch Cree Nation was one of six First Nations across Alberta to receive a $50,000 grant from the Alberta government in 2020 to help it develop proposals to take part in the Alberta Surgical Initiative.
  • Chartered surgical facilities have been offering publicly funded surgeries to Albertans since the 1990s.
  • The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta accredits chartered surgical facilities for quality and safety standards.