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Alberta

Province boosts funding to add almost 100,000 CT scans and MRI’s over the next year

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From the Province of Alberta

Improving access to MRIs and CT scans

A $33-million one-time commitment from Budget 2021 will drive down wait times for Albertans needing non-emergency CT scans and MRIs in public hospitals and spark innovation to provide the best patient care.

The commitment will support AHS to perform up to 50,000 additional CT (computerized tomography) scans and up to 45,000 additional MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans throughout the province in 2021-22.

This work is part of an aggressive action plan developed by Alberta’s government and AHS to reduce wait times to ensure that by 2023, all Albertans have their CT scans and MRIs done within appropriate wait times recommended by medical experts.

“Albertans need better results from our health-care system, including from MRIs and CT scans that can diagnose their health condition and set them on the path to recovery. This commitment is part of Alberta’s historic investment in health care. We will ensure that all health dollars are spent wisely to support patients and families.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“Physicians have raised the alarm that long waits put patients at risk – and we couldn’t agree more. Reducing wait times for these medically necessary diagnostic tests is not negotiable. This is why I directed AHS to implement this action plan and to work in partnership with radiologists to find innovative solutions to provide the best patient care with the significant dollars dedicated to this work.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

The additional $33 million will augment the $1 billion Alberta spends each year on diagnostic imaging. This total spend includes ultrasounds, X-rays and mammography, as well as MRIs and CT scans for Albertans.

So far, AHS and its contracted radiologists’ focused work on the action plan has meant fewer people are waiting for CT and MRI scans now compared with March 2020, a trend that will continue over the next two years.

“AHS understands how important it is for patients to receive timely access to diagnostic testing and quick turnaround of results. We are listening to all concerns and are proactively working to improve this very important service for Albertans.”

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO, Alberta Health Services

“Timely access to diagnostic imaging including CT and MRI is an essential component of quality patient care. Imaging plays an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of many medical conditions. Improved access to imaging should lead to improved care.”

Dr. Derek Emery, professor and chair, Department of Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging, University of Alberta and Zone Clinical Department Head, Diagnostic Imaging, Alberta Health Services

“Alberta’s Radiologists welcome this initiative to decrease waitlists for CT and MRI, two critical tools in the overall function of our health-care system. Timely access to all medical imaging and image-guided procedures is so important, now more than ever.”

Dr. Robert Davies, president, Alberta Medical Association Section of Diagnostic Imaging

Alberta Health and AHS developed the CT and MRI Action Plan to address increasingly long wait times, which peaked in 2019-20, and to decrease costs, better manage demand to reduce unnecessary tests, and to make sure the people who most need the tests for treatment decisions will get the scans sooner. The implementation plan uses data to more accurately estimate where demand pressures may occur so that resources can be deployed to respond efficiently.

AHS will reinvest any cost savings achieved through the plan to where they are most needed.

Budget 2021 protects lives and livelihoods with a historic investment in health care while laying the foundation for economic growth. Through the prudent management of tax dollars, Alberta’s government can continue to invest in priority areas to ensure Alberta emerges from COVID-19 stronger than ever.

Quick facts

  • Demand for CT scans in Alberta is increasing by five per cent annually, and for MRIs by 3.5 per cent annually.
  • If a patient is in an emergency department and needs an urgent scan, they are able to get one quickly. If a patient is in hospital, they are able to get a scan within 24 hours.
  • While wait times for patients in hospital or emergency departments are stable and within time frames recommended by medical experts, wait times for outpatients referred for a CT or MRI scan are longer than recommended.
  • As of December 2020:
    • 44,341 Albertans were waiting for a CT scan, down from 60,181 Albertans waiting in March 2020.
      • 79 per cent of urgent out-patients were able to get their CT scans within clinically appropriate wait times.
      • 41 per cent of routine out-patients were able to get their CT scans within clinically appropriate wait times.
    • 59,614 Albertans were waiting for an MRI, down from 66,183 Albertans waiting in March 2020.
      • 75 per cent of urgent out-patients were able to get their MRIs within clinically appropriate wait times.
      • 55 per cent of routine out-patients were able to get their CT scans within clinically appropriate wait times.

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Alberta

From maybe to no: Alberta cabinet ministers give range of answers on replacing Kenney

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By Dean Bennett in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The race to replace Jason Kenney as United Conservative Party leader and Alberta premier has two entrants so far along with a number of cabinet ministers who, when asked if they plan to run, delivered answers ranging from maybe to a hard no.

Government house leader and Environment Minister Jason Nixon says he has not ruled out running for the top job but has more thinking to do and, for now, is focused on the spring sitting of the legislature.

“At the end of the day, internal politics are internal politics, but the people of Alberta expect us to come up here and get to work,” Nixon told reporters on his way into the house Tuesday.

“I haven’t ruled anything out (on a leadership bid),” he added. “I’ll be doing what I think is best for the party under the lens of making sure that we stay united and that we defeat the NDP in a year.”

Transportation Minister Rajan Sawhney said she will consult with her family, constituents and Albertans before deciding.

“I haven’t made up my mind as of yet,” she said.

Finance Minister Travis Toews refused multiple times to say whether he would be running or not running, or whether he’s even considering it at all.

“This week we are focused on the people’s business,” said Toews.

Justice Minister Tyler Shandro said he will not run for the leadership but plans to run again for a seat in Calgary-Acadia in the 2023 provincial election.

“It’s never crossed my mind to run for the leader of any political party,” said Shandro. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a politician or MLA in the first place.”

Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides said he won’t be in the running.

“I don’t have any plans for anything like that,” he said, adding he does plan to run in the election.

Health Minister Jason Copping also tossed cold water on a bid.

“I’m not considering running for the leadership at this time. I’m focused on delivering health care for Albertans,” he said.

Children’s Services Minster Rebecca Schulz said: “It’s too early to say.”

Labour Minister Kaycee Madu had two words: “No comment.”

On Monday, Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer announced he won’t run for the leadership and won’t run again for his seat in Calgary-Elbow.

Two candidates — Brian Jean and Danielle Smith — have said they will seek the leadership.

Jean and Schweitzer ran and lost to Kenney in the inaugural UCP leadership race in 2017. Jean has since returned to politics, winning a seat for the UCP earlier this year in a byelection on a platform to unseat Kenney as leader.

Smith is the former leader of the Wildrose Party, which merged under Jean with Kenney’s Progressive Conservatives in 2017 to form the UCP.

The UCP is still working on details of the leadership race and no rules or timeline have been presented yet.

Tuesday was the first day the house sat since Kenney said last week he will quit the top job once a new leader is chosen.

He made the announcement after receiving 51 per cent support in a leadership review vote by party rank and file. He said the result reflects a deep division in the party that won’t be fixed if he stays premier.

The Opposition NDP continued to hammer away at what it calls the “interim UCP” government. It said while the government focuses on its internal drama, Albertans are facing real challenges, including inflation, high gas and utility costs and long waiting lists for surgery.

“(There’s) all kinds of uncertainty in Alberta politics right now, but one constant (is) this premier’s self-importance,” NDP finance critic Shannon Phillips told Kenney as he sat across the aisle from her, signing documents and answering questions in the house.

“Anyway,” Phillips added, “enough about yesterday’s man.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2022.

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Alberta

Oilers outlast Flames to grab 3-1 series lead

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EDMONTON — Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored his second goal of the night with 3:27 left in regulation as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Calgary Flames 5-3 on Tuesday to take a 3-1 lead in the teams’ second-round playoff series.

Evander Kane, with his NHL-best 11th and 12th of the post-season, and Zach Hyman had the other goals for Edmonton, which got 29 saves from Mike Smith. Leon Draisaitl added two assists.

Connor McDavid also had two assists to give him a league-topping 25 points in 11 playoff outings this spring for the Oilers, who kept their foot on the gas with a third straight victory over their provincial rival.

Elias Lindholm, Mikael Backlund and Rasmus Andersson, on a short-handed goal from his own end in the third period to tie proceedings 3-3, replied for Calgary, which will look to stave off elimination in the first post-season Battle of Alberta in 31 years Thursday at home in Game 5.

Jacob Markstrom stopped 21 shots.

After trailing 3-0 after the first period and 3-2 through 40 minutes, Calgary improbably knotted things in the third on an Edmonton power play when Andersson fired a 150-foot clearing attempt from his own end that somehow fooled Smith at 10:56 and stunned Rogers Place.

But with the Oilers wobbling, Nugent-Hopkins shovelled home his fourth of the playoffs from Markstrom’s doorstep to send the nervous crowd into a frenzy.

Andersson then took a four-minute penalty for high-sticking with 2:40 left to effectively kill off the game before Kane iced it into an empty net.

Edmonton also held a 2-1 series lead in the first round against the Los Angeles Kings only to play what the Oilers described as their worst performance of the month in a 4-0 loss.

They won’t be thrilled with this Game 4 either, but got the victory for a stranglehold on the series.

Markstrom, who had allowed 14 goals in the series before getting pulled after two periods with Calgary trailing Sunday’s Game 3 by a 4-0 score line, played the puck behind his own net on the first shift, but put it right on Nugent-Hopkins’ stick for him to bury his third inside a deafening arena.

The goal was the third-fastest in Oilers’ playoff history, just short of McDavid (19 seconds in 2020) and Fernando Pisani (16 seconds in 2006).

One of three finalists for the Vézina Trophy as the NHL’s top netminder, Markstrom recovered to deny Darnell Nurse on a chance a couple minutes later before Smith was at full stretch on a Johnny Gaudreau one-time chance.

Calgary winger Tyler Toffoli then took a tripping penalty and the Oilers made the visitors pay when Hyman outmuscled a hobbled Chris Tanev — back in the lineup for the first time since Game 6 of the opening round despite a suspected upper-body injury — in tight to bury his fifth goal of the series and seventh of the playoffs at 9:53.

The Flames, who topped the Pacific Division in the regular season, pushed back with a couple of decent shifts, but Kane, who was coming off a natural hat trick in Game 3, made it 3-0 with 66 seconds remaining in the period on a shot that nicked off blue-liner Nikita Zadorov.

Calgary finally showed some life on slick power play in the second with Kane off for slashing, and Lindholm eventually picked the top corner for his fifth at 9:04 after the Oilers twice failed to clear the defensive zone.

Backlund got the Flames within one at 3-2 just 36 seconds later when he stepped past Duncan Keith and fired his fourth past Smith.

Smith made a good stop on a Lindholm power-play chance early in the third before the home side got its second man-advantage with 11 minutes left in regulation.

Markstrom kept his team within striking distance with a terrific pad stop on Draisaitl, who was looking to become the first player in NHL history to register record three-plus points in four straight playoff games, with a terrific pad stop before Andersson’s shocking equalizer from well inside his own blue line.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2022.

___

Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter.

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

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