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Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones at the Michener Institute of Education, in Toronto, on Dec. 1.Chris Young/The Canadian Press

Ontario is investing more than $20-million in operating costs to run 27 new magnetic resonance imaging machines across the province.

Health Minister Sylvia Jones says the money will be geared toward small and rural hospitals who do not yet have MRI machines.

Ms. Jones says the money is not for buying MRI machines, which will be left to the individual hospitals.

Collingwood General and Marine Hospital president Michael Lacroix says the move will allow patients to stay within the region to get an MRI completed.

Mr. Lacroix says the change will also help alleviate pressures on other hospitals who have the machines and will reduce wait times for scans.

Ontario Health data show that only 36 per cent of patients have MRI scans within the target time – which varies depending on priority – and that patients who should be receiving a scan within 28 days have an average wait time of 77 days.