Nine new MRI sites mean shorter wait times

Ontarians can count on shorter wait times for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) services because of an aggressive plan to open nine new MRI sites while bringing for-profit MRIs back into the public health system, said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.

“To keep Ontarians healthy, we need to reduce wait times for key medical services, including MRIs,” he said. “We’re making significant progress towards that goal.”

The Premier made his remarks as he officially launched a new MRI at the Queensway Carleton Hospital in Ottawa.

It’s one of two new MRIs planned for the city — another is to open soon at Montfort Hospital. Ottawa has been facing some of the longest wait times for MRIs in the province.

With the Queensway Carleton opening, the government has moved closer to its goal of opening nine new or expanded MRI sites across the province.

Three communities — Ottawa, Owen Sound and Oakville — now have new or expanded services.

By March, another three MRIs will be operating in Markham, Richmond Hill and Ottawa.

The last three — in Niagara Falls, London and Windsor — are planned for late 2005 or early 2006.

At the same time, the Province has been negotiating to bring for-profit MRIs into the public system.

So far, three MRIs — located in Kingston, Kitchener and Richmond Hill — have been “repatriated.” The hours of operation at these facilities have been significantly expanded so that more people living in those communities have access to an MRI when they need it.

“As Ontarians and Canadians, we believe that health care should be available on the basis of how sick you are — not how rich you are,” said Premier McGuinty.

“Under our plan, MRI services will be driven by community need, not by profit.”

Health Minister George Smitherman stressed there’s no magic solution to the challenge of wait times but the government is making significant progress.

“The expansion in MRI services that we are marking today will have a dramatic effect on wait times for this important diagnostic procedure in communities right across this province,” he said.

Premier McGuinty said his government is committed to achieving measurable results in health care to ensure Ontarians have access to quality care — when and where they need it.

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