Ontario begins MRI purchasing drive

April 24, 1996

The Canadian province of Ontario has begun issuing the first governmentapprovals in a campaign to add 23 new MRI scanners to the province'sinstalled base over the next several years. The approvals aresimilar to the certificate-of-need (CON) process in

The Canadian province of Ontario has begun issuing the first governmentapprovals in a campaign to add 23 new MRI scanners to the province'sinstalled base over the next several years. The approvals aresimilar to the certificate-of-need (CON) process in the U.S.,in which hospitals must receive government approval before makingmajor capital equipment purchases.

Canada has a far lower scanner-to-population ratio than theU.S., in large measure due to the desire of provincial governmentsto keep healthcare costs down by restricting scanner purchasing.Last year, however, the Ontario government said that it wouldloosen restrictions to allow the purchase of 23 MRI scanners,according to Bruce Ross, president of Picker International's Canadiansubsidiary in Toronto (SCAN 6/21/95).

There has been some uncertainty in recent weeks as to whetherthe Ontario government would honor the commitment, made duringan election year by the leftist New Democratic Party shortly beforeit was swept out of power by the Progressive Conservatives. However,the first two government approvals were issued a month and a halfago and the rest will be forthcoming, Ross said.

"This is a new government, and they are going over allthe commitments made by the old government," he said. "Theyare paring down their budgets. That may have led to the feelingthat they might not allow the MRI approvals to come out."

Those orders will occur over the next two years, Ross believes,and the province may eventually end up with 30 to 40 MRI scannersin its installed base. That would be a big improvement over thecurrent situation in Ontario, which has only 12 scanners installed.In Canada as a whole, there are 42 scanners serving a nation ofsome 29 million people, Ross said.