CancerCare Manitoba to offer $8.4M specialized MRI machine by early 2024: province

Specialized MRI technology rare to Canada will soon be available for Manitobans battling cancer to add to their treatment arsenal, the province announced on Thursday.

The $8.4-million machine will be housed at CancerCare Manitoba, providing enhanced imaging and advanced techniques to improve outcomes of cancer treatment. It is expected to begin operations in eight months, a news release from the province says.

The president of CancerCare Manitoba says the MRI technology is rare in Canada, as it is only currently in use at Toronto’s Princess Margaret Hospital, and Alberta has just purchased their own equipment.

“My hope for CancerCare and the province of Manitoba is to be a beacon of excellence in the world,” Dr. Sri Navaratnam said at a Thursday news conference, adding that the new MRI machine will help assist and personalize cancer treatment planning for Manitobans. 

“Radiation is one of the core treatments for cancer, along with other systemic therapy and surgery. For this to be of most benefit, it must be delivered precisely to the cancer or tumour,” she said.

A woman wearing black rimmed glasses and a pink blazer is shown speaking at a press conference.
Dr. Sri Navaratnam, president of CancerCare Manitoba, says the new MRI machine will help recruit and retain new talent in the province, including radiation oncologists, therapists and researchers. (CBC)

The new technology will also help attract and retain new talent in the province, including radiation oncologists, therapists and researchers, according to Navaratnam.

Private donations to the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation, which raises money for CancerCare Manitoba, will help fund the $10-million purchase, installation and enhancement of the new MRI unit, a news release from the province says.

The provincial government is committing $510,000 annually for the operations of the machine, which is a step toward “healing the health-care system,” Health Minister Audrey Gordon said at the news conference.

The diagnostic and surgical recovery task force will also invest $150,000 to make the unit available on evenings and weekends and cut wait times, said Gordon.

“This is another tool to help support the experts here at CancerCare, so they can continue to provide the best care possible to the people we love,” she said, adding that her father died from colon cancer.

The chief development officer of Manitoba’s CancerCare Foundation says the new unit will change the lives of Manitobans facing cancer, as well as their families.

“We want to give people every possible hope for better outcomes,” Janice Feuer said at the conference.