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Edmonton area on track to be short 1,500 hospital beds by 2026: internal AHS document


The Alberta government is aware that the Edmonton area has a deficit of hundreds of hospital beds and that number is expected to balloon to roughly 1,500 in the next few years, according to internal documents obtained by CTV News Edmonton.

The report titled "Inpatient Bed Deficit Projections" is dated January 2023 and written on pages stamped with the logo of Alberta Health Services.

It was provided by a health-care professional who CTV News Edmonton has agreed not to name because sharing it may put their job at risk.

"The ministry knows, Alberta Health Services knows, Alberta Infrastructure knows we have this progressively increasing deficit," the source said.

"But nobody wants to talk about it because if they do, they have to actually explain what they're going to do about it."

The document contains numbers from four studies which show the Edmonton zone of AHS has been short roughly 500 beds since 2016 and is on track to be short as many as 3,000 by 2036.

The capital city area will require 4,987 beds in total by 2026, according to one study.

The numbers are being considered as part of the South Edmonton Hospital project, which could add roughly 500 beds but still leave the Edmonton zone short by 1,043 beds in 2026.

Three of the data sets were crunched by consulting groups. Two of those studies project the deficit to rise to roughly 3,000 beds by 2036.

A fourth set of numbers by AHS pegs that number at 1,828 by 2037, even if 509 new beds are added in a brand-new hospital in south Edmonton.

The source said the numbers clearly show the South Edmonton Hospital project needs to be built immediately. They said a new hospital is also needed in Airdrie and major expansions should be built at several hospitals in Calgary and Edmonton to meet projected demand.

They said the real-world effects of the current deficit are already being felt by patients.

"It explains in complete detail why we have our emergency rooms overrun, the ambulances waiting outside, people being put in care areas that were not designed for it and people being sent home who should not be sent home," the source said.

The projections were done using data on in-migration from other provinces, population growth and other demographics including an aging population, they said.

The last hospital built in the city of Edmonton was the Grey Nuns in Mill Woods 35 years ago.

"We haven't built a hospital since 1988. Hundreds of thousands of people have moved to the capital region and we haven't built new hospitals. We're way behind," said Chris Gallaway with advocacy group Friends of Medicare.

"To see it laid out that way [in the document], it's kinda surprising to see how big the numbers are and how fast they're growing."

Gallaway pointed out that Edmonton hospitals provide services to people across the province so he said the "infrastructure deficit" hurts all Albertans.

A new hospital in Edmonton and a planned expansion to the centre in Red Deer are long overdue, he believes.


The Alberta NDP is pledging to build the new facility in south Edmonton at a cost of at least $1.8 billion and on Wednesday its leader accused the UCP government of being dishonest about where the project stands.

"I think the problem we have here is that the UCP has basically decided to cancel it but they haven't had the courage to tell the people of Edmonton and northern Alberta that that is the decision they have made," leader Rachel Notley told reporters.

"So the way we get things moving faster is you say, 'We will build it.' And then you keep your promise and you build it."

Notley alleged that the UCP has "no plans to address " the bed shortage Edmonton is facing.

She also promised to "aggressively recruit" staff to work in the new facility if she becomes premier again.

The hospital project was first announced by her NDP government in 2017 and was promised to open in 2026.

The UCP government delayed the hospital after winning the 2019 election and at one time pegged the opening for 2030.

A spokesperson for the government's infrastructure minister said $52 million has been spent on the hospital so far, but an official in the health ministry said a total budget, completion date and the number of beds the UCP is planning to add are all still undecided.

"The previous [NDP] government irresponsibly put this project in its capital plan before the business case for the project was complete," infrastructure press secretary Benji Smith wrote in a statement to CTV News Edmonton.

"This is like building a house without financing or blueprints in place."

He said work is ongoing including hiring a contractor, pipeline surveys and utility installation.


Thursday afternoon, a spokesperson for AHS said design work is yet to be completed on the new hospital but $400 million has been committed so far.

"The New Edmonton Hospital project will include more than 400 acute inpatient beds and considerable space for services and programs to expand which will help with meeting the future health needs of those in the Edmonton area," Kerry Williamson wrote in an email.

The site is located near Ellerslie Road and 127 Street SW. No construction work was being done there Wednesday and there is no signage about the project at the site.

Edmonton's four adult hospitals – Grey Nuns, Misericordia, Royal Alexandra, and University of Alberta – all had occupancy rates above 90 per cent from January to November 2022, according to other AHS documents obtained by CTV News Edmonton.

In November, the most cramped facility was the U of A at 108 per cent occupancy. The least full was the Royal Alex at 97 per cent occupancy.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jessica Robb and Krya Markov Top Stories

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