The Manitoba government is committing $510,000 annually for the operating costs of a new specialized MRI at CancerCare Manitoba (CCMB) to provide Manitobans with the best available evidence-based clinical care radiation treatment.

“Our government is healing the health-care system by investing in advanced equipment and programming that ensures more Manitobans are getting the care they need where and when they need it,” said Health Minister Audrey Gordon. “This specialized MRI unit will significantly improve the level of clinical care for Manitobans living with cancer.”

The specialized MRI unit provides enhanced imaging for cancer treatment planning and monitoring purposes, and allows for improved accuracy in identifying tumour boundaries. Its advanced techniques allow for the customization of a patient’s cancer treatment, and configuration to potentially characterize cancer growth and track aggressiveness.

“This is a great day for Manitoba as we will be able to bring advanced MRI technology to our cancer patients,” said Dr. Sri Navaratnam, president and CEO, CancerCare Manitoba. “Not only will this bring significant clinical benefits to our patients, but it will also provide numerous research opportunities to continually advance and improve patient care. We are thankful to our donors and the work of our foundation for this investment and the Manitoba government for providing the ongoing operating costs. This is a great example of health-care organizations working together to provide the best patient care.”

The specialized MRI will support advanced research in the province, which will boost ongoing efforts to recruit and retain radiation oncologists, medical physicists and other highly skilled staff, noted the minister.

“Today’s announcement marks a monumental advancement in diagnostic services, treatment, and research benefiting Manitobans with cancer,” said Lee Meagher, board chair, CancerCare Manitoba Foundation. “CancerCare Manitoba Foundation looks forward to engaging with a community of donors to fund the $8.4-million acquisition and installation of an MRI dedicated to CCMB. Additional enhancements will bring the total private donor investment to $10 million, and will ultimately provide better outcomes for patients with cancer in this province.”

As part of its work to ensure Manitobans are getting timely care in a stronger, more resilient public health system, the Manitoba government is also investing $150,000 through the Diagnostic and Surgical Recovery Task Force (DSRTF) to make the MRI unit available on evenings and weekends. This targeted funding will result in 1,000 more scans and help to reduce wait times.

“The task force has worked diligently to eliminate the pandemic backlog for numerous procedures and greatly reduce the wait times for other surgical and diagnostic care,” said Dr. Peter MacDonald, chair, Diagnostic and Surgical Recovery Task Force steering committee. “We are pleased to continue working collaboratively with health-care providers throughout the province to further improve access and reliability.”

Preparation for construction of the specialized MRI unit is currently underway and is expected to start in six to eight months with a total projected cost of more than $8.4 million.