Response from the United Conservative Party

The UCP has been proud to support AHS in moving forward in cancer care screening, diagnosis, and care in spite of the strain of the pandemic

Two exciting steps are the lung cancer screening pilot project and lowering the age for routine breast cancer screening, both announced in 2022.

These are exciting steps and we hope they’ll help identify cancer earlier and improve outcomes for patients. Alberta was the first province to make the change in breast cancer screening; it’s just the latest example of a long record of leadership in cancer care in this province.

As in other provinces, our clinicians and scientists constantly evaluate emerging diagnostic and treatment approaches, and implement them based on the best available evidence. The updated breast cancer screening guideline was created by the Alberta Breast Cancer Screening Clinical Practice Guideline (CPG) Committee after extensive review of new available evidence.

AHS will decide on the next steps for both these screening programs. The use of any specific diagnostic or treatment technology is not a political decision; it’s decided by AHS based on the advice of their expert clinicians about what is the best care for patients and the best use of resources.

A re-elected UCP government will continue to support AHS in making decisions based on the best evidence, and ensure they have the resources needed to provide world-class cancer care in world-class facilities, including the new Calgary Cancer Centre.

We’re spending a record Health budget to add capacity across the health system, including an increase of nearly $1 billion in Budget 2023, on top of what was already a record budget. We have more physicians, nurses and other professionals working in the system than ever before. But the strain of the past 3 years means wait times for cancer and other care remain a challenge across Canada.

We’re supporting AHS in increasing cancer care and reducing wait times. In April, Health Minister Jason Copping confirmed that AHS was doing around 10% more cancer surgeries than in 2018-19 under the previous NDP government. As well, Budget 2023 includes a 10% increase in funding for cancer drugs. Access to cancer care in general is comparable to 2018-19 but many patients still wait too long, so we’ll keep resourcing AHS to bring wait times for cancer surgery and other care down further.

We promised Albertans in 2019 that every patient who needs scheduled surgery would get it within a clinically appropriate time. We stand by that promise and we’re working to deliver on it in 2024, just one year later than our original commitment, in spite of the strain of the past 3 years. Albertans will have by far the best access to scheduled surgery that’s ever been provided by our publicly funded health system in any province in Canada.”