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McGuinty adds $154 million to five clinical areas

TORONTO – The Ontario government is investing in the largest increase in cataract surgeries, hip and knee replacements and MRI exams in more than a decade, according to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.

“Patients expect and deserve access to quality health care,” said Premier McGuinty (pictured at left). “Our Wait Time Strategy will provide people with faster access to better health services, to reduce their pain and suffering and keep them healthier, longer.”

Premier McGuinty announced an investment of $154 million in five key areas – cancer surgery, select cardiac procedures, hip and knee replacements, cataract surgery and MRI/CT exams. This is part of the government’s plan that will add 67,700 new procedures in areas associated with a high degree of disease and disability.

“This is another huge step forward in building a health care system that will help keep Ontarians healthier, get them good care when they’re sick, and will be there for generations to come,” said George Smitherman, minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

The government will provide full operational funding in 2005/2006 for:

• 4,300 more total hip and knee joint replacements, an increase of 16 per cent over 2004/2005;

• 14,000 additional cataract surgeries, an increase of 13 per cent over 2004/2005;

• 39,500 more MRI exams by continuing to extend hours of operation at existing MRI machines. This is in addition to the 37,260 more exams for 2005/2006 from last year’s investment in seven replacement MRI machines, the new hospital MRI machines and expanded hours of operation at the repatriated MRIs in independent health facilities – for a total increase in MRI exams of 24 per cent this year;

• 7,000 more cardiac procedures, an increase of seven per cent over 2004/2005;

• 2,900 additional cancer surgeries over 2004/2005.

“These increases are part of a larger plan to shorten wait times across the province through the government’s Wait Time Strategy,” said Dr. Alan Hudson, who is leading the plan’s implementation. “The strategy is well under way to ensure more patients are treated sooner as the government funds more surgery cases and works with hospitals to implement best practices.”