CALGARY, AB – A major push is underway to seriously cut surgical wait times across Alberta.

The UCP government promised a while back that Albertans should be able to get surgeries within an acceptable period of time.

The COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on those plans, but Health Minister Tyler Shandro says they’re now aggressively forging ahead.

“Going forward, we’re going to eliminate the backlog this year and press on toward the goal of the Alberta Surgical Initiative – to provide all scheduled surgeries within clinically acceptable times by 2023,” says Health Minister Tyler Shandro.

Shandro says starting April 1st, Alberta’s health care system will provide more than 55,000 additional surgeries which is on top of the average of 290,000 a year. This will eliminate the pandemic backlog of postponed surgeries, and take a first step toward the government’s goal of treating every patient within a clinically acceptable time.

This is being made possible with chartered surgical facilities working under contract with AHS.

Minister Shandro said Friday that chartered surgical facilities began ramping up their surgical activity in December 2020, especially cataract surgeries that have the largest wait-lists. As new and existing chartered surgical facilities begin working under contract with AHS this spring and throughout the year, they will complete about 90,000 surgeries each year by 2023, up from the more than 40,000 surgeries they currently perform in a year.

AHS will issue requests for proposals for additional capacity for ophthalmology and orthopedic surgical services in March and May respectively.