Where is Dauphin's MRI machine? NDP MLA asks government in question period

Months after a project to bring an MRI to Dauphin, Man., got put on hold, an NDP MLA wants to know where the machine is now.

Project to bring MRI to Dauphin stalled in March after province asked for report on wait times

The former NDP government promised Dauphin a new MRI machine in 2013. (CBC)

Months after a project to bring an MRI to Dauphin, Man., got put on hold, an NDP MLA wants to know where the machine is now.

"Thousands of patients in the parklands are travelling to Brandon or to Winnipeg, sometimes tying up an ambulance for most of a day, to get those tests done, even though we know there's a new MRI machine somewhere that could be up and running," Minto MLA Andrew Swan said in question period in the Manitoba Legislature on Monday.

The former NDP government promised the city of roughly 8,400 people a new MRI in 2013.

The machine's installation was put on hold in March, weeks before it was supposed to be installed, as a government task force conducted a province-wide review of health-care wait times. An addition to the Dauphin hospital to house the machine was nearing completion at the time, and staff had already been hired and trained, the city told CBC News in March.

The machine was expected to make roughly 3,750 scans per year, and would have saved patients the (sometimes overnight) trip to Brandon or Winnipeg for the same procedure.

Mayor Eric Irwin told CBC News at the time the machine had been expected to be  "the first MRI in Manitoba that was going to be installed north of the Number 1 highway."

On Monday, Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen told the House "we await the wait times task force and their report, which will be publicly released at the end of the year, and the member opposite [Swan] will be able to peruse it at that time."

He did not say what the current status of the machine is.
The grey addition to the Dauphin Regional Health Centre was specially built to house an MRI machine. The project was put on hold in March, the same month the machine was set to be installed. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

CBC News asked a spokesperson for the government whether the MRI had been purchased yet and where it is now.

In a written response, the spokesperson said "our government created a wait time reduction task force to identify how wait times can be reduced by examining best practices and using evidence to develop a more accurate picture of both the demand for the services and where capacity exists."

"The task force was asked to specifically examine the proposed MRI for Dauphin using this criteria."

The spokesperson said the task force has "substantially completed their work" and the report is being reviewed by departmental officials before being presented to the minister.