Alberta NDP says ‘delays to cancer surgeries continue to grow as overall number of surgeries performed under UCP is less than under previous NDP government’; Minister of Health Jason Copping issues statement correcting incorrect information about cancer surgeries performed in Alberta

Media Statement

Cancer Surgeries: Minister Copping

Minister of Health Jason Copping issued the following statement correcting incorrect information about cancer surgeries performed in Alberta:

“Today, inaccurate information on the number of cancer surgeries performed in the province was circulated to the public. There was a claim that the government performed 2,175 cancer surgeries last quarter compared to 2,412 in the third quarter (Q3) four years ago.

“That’s not accurate. In Q3 of 2018-19, there were about 5,100 cancer surgeries performed. That is still lower than the number performed in Q3 last year, which was almost 5,600.

“They also claimed that the number of surgeries decreased, even though the province’s population increased.

“Alberta’s population has increased about five per cent between 2019 and 2023, while the average quarterly number of cancer surgeries comparing these two years increased almost 10 per cent.

“As of March 6 of the 2022-23 fiscal year, AHS had already completed approximately 20,930 cancer surgeries, compared to approximately 18,760 by this time in the 2018-19 fiscal year, pre-pandemic. 

“Alberta’s government knows that patients have been waiting too long for the surgeries they need and there can be serious complications that result from those wait times. That’s why we committed to bringing those wait times to within clinically recommended guidelines, especially for cancer surgeries.

“The Alberta Surgical Initiative is making great progress. Currently, cancer surgeries in Alberta are at nearly 112 per cent of pre-pandemic volumes and AHS is working to improve those numbers. In the 2021-22 fiscal year, cancer surgery numbers went up to about 22,500 from 20,000.

“We are also increasing spending on cancer therapy drugs – this year’s budget includes an increase of almost 10 per cent to support patients dealing with cancer treatments.

“Alberta has the best front-line health care workers in the world, and we are committed to putting the right supports in place for Albertans, so they get the care they need when and where they need it.”

News Release


CALGARY – The delays to cancer surgeries continue to grow as the overall number of surgeries performed under the UCP is less than under the previous NDP government.

In the most recent third quarter report from Alberta Health Services, just 2,176 surgeries were performed. Meanwhile, in the NDP’s last quarter in government, a total of 2,412 surgeries were performed. As a result, more than 40 per cent of all cancer surgeries are now being delayed.

“I watched during the COVID-19 pandemic as our emergency rooms were overwhelmed as surgeries were delayed and as people were left in pain and agony. I have seen firsthand the chaos caused in healthcare by the UCP government’s horrible mismanagement and constant efforts to fight with frontline workers, rather than support them,” said Diana Batten, a Registered Nurse and Alberta NDP candidate for Calgary-Acadia.

“Now, the government tries to claim that the crisis is over. But the stories we hear daily from patients and my own work colleagues indicate it’s anything but.”

During last year’s UCP leadership race, Smith said that everything leading up to stage four cancer is within a person’s control.

In a video from 2021, Smith is heard questioning whether a regular checkup to the doctor should be covered by government.

She also released a paper through the University of Calgary a few months later that argues that “once people get used to the concept of paying out of pocket for more things themselves then we can change the conversation on health care.”

Meanwhile, the previous NDP government began construction on the Calgary Cancer Centre following years of delays under conservative governments. The centre is expected to open next year and the NDP has committed to fully staffing it.

The Alberta NDP has also proposed modernizing the primary care system through the creation of Family Health Teams to give 1 million more Albertans access to a doctor, take pressure off hospitals, and identify diseases like cancer sooner.

“At a time when public healthcare so desperately needs better leadership, Danielle Smith is moving to dismantle it and make Albertans pay for medical care,” said Alberta NDP candidate for Calgary-Buffalo Joe Ceci.

“Instead of blaming patients, an Alberta NDP government is going to deliver public healthcare for those who need it.”



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