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Manitoba is continuing to see reduced emergency wait times after a number of major changes.

"Whenever you see change and healthcare in the same sentence it can make people nervous," Morden-Winkler MLA and Health Minister Cameron Friesen says. "But we're changing the healthcare system because we have to."

He notes Manitoba's healthcare system is one of the most expensive in Canada, yet flags behind other provinces in terms of results. However, last year the province underwent an ambitious rehaul of the emergency rooms in Winnipeg, closing half of them to streamline and find efficiencies.

Now, the latest data shows Manitoba saw a 25 percent improvement in the length of stay for admitted patients in emergency departments. He notes the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is now better than the Canadian average.

"That's encouraging," Friesen says. "It's clearly not mission accomplished, but also Manitobans are understanding it's also not 'mission impossible.'"

In the past, Friesen says former governments have thrown more money at the problem "and finally said, 'oh well, I guess it's impossible to drive down wait times.' But we're seeing real evidence it can be done."

The Province also recently announced $5.3 million in new provincial funding to increase hip and knee replacements by 25 percent, and cataract surgeries by 16 percent, which translates to approximately 1,000 additional hip and knee surgeries and 2,000 cataract procedures in 2019.

Boundary Trails Health Centre (BTHC) and its orthopedic program will see a number of these additional procedures. In the last year, BTHC completed 423 hip and knee total joint replacements.

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