Alberta spending $33M to catch up on diagnostic imaging

·1 min read
Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced $33 million to expand diagnostic imaging like CT scans and MRIs.  (Alberta government pool feed - image credit)
Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced $33 million to expand diagnostic imaging like CT scans and MRIs. (Alberta government pool feed - image credit)

Alberta is spending $33 million this year to ramp up the number of non-emergency CT scans and MRIs to deal with a backlog of diagnostic imaging for non-emergency cases.

The money, included in the 2021 budget, will help pay for staffing required to do as many as additional 50,000 CT scans and 45,000 MRIs in the upcoming fiscal year. It is a one-time expenditure on top of the regular spending on diagnostic imaging.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro says emergency scans are done within 24 hours, but patients who aren't in hospital have been waiting too long.

"It's delaying their treatment and putting their health at risk," Shandro said Friday, a day after the legislature passed the 2021 budget. "It's been that way for years and it's time that we fix it."

A year ago, Shandro announced the province's contract with radiologists — the specialist physicians who read and interpret diagnostic images — would end by March 31, 2021.

He said Friday that a contract extension has been worked out while Alberta Health Services works with radiologists on reaching a new agreement.

Edmonton-City Centre MLA David Shepherd, the NDP Opposition critic for health, said the funding announcement was overdue.

"I have heard from radiologists and lab technicians across the province who have been calling for greater investment for months to help them do their jobs, and yet today's plan still lacks detail on how it addresses concerns around capacity and resources," Shepherd said in a news release.

"Tyler Shandro has lost so much trust. He owes these front-line health workers better answers than he gave today."