Albertans to experience more ambulance shortages as a result of budget cuts

“It snows in Alberta every winter. There’s a flu outbreak every year. Regular events should not cripple ambulance services.” — Mike Parker, HSAA President

Edmonton (17 March 2017) — Albertans are being warned to prepare for more Code Reds — shortages of ambulances — as a result of cuts announced in the Alberta budget. 

Despite regular Code Reds, Alberta government cut $17M in ambulance services

“There was a Code Red in Calgary yesterday morning just before the budget was released. This means there weren’t enough ambulances to answer emergency calls. Paramedics were shocked, therefore, to see a $17 million cut in ambulance services for next year,” says Mike Parker, President of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE), the union that represents 25,000 health care professionals.

“Code Reds are happening far too often, not just in Calgary, but in Edmonton and other regions. These shortages aren’t the result of temporary pressures on the system caused by snow or outbreaks of flu, they are entirely due to a lack of ambulances and paramedics,” said Parker. “It snows in Alberta every winter. There’s a flu outbreak every year. Regular events should not cripple ambulance services.”

Using neighbouring resources stretches communities further

Alberta Health Services (AHS) sayid that the Code Red on March 16 led to 45 additional ambulance units being drawn into Calgary from surrounding communities and from non-emergency resources.

“What this means is that we are sucking in resources from other areas where they are needed to support a drowning system in Calgary. What happens when someone outside of Calgary needs an ambulance? It snowed there, too,” Parker stated.

HSAA/NUPGE wants explanation from government on funding cuts

“I’m hearing from our members that they’re tending to patients on the cold streets for an hour while they wait for a transport-capable ambulance to take the patient to hospital, and that at one point yesterday there were 10 calls waiting for an ambulance to be dispatched. It’s abundantly clear that we don’t have enough resources and yet we now face a cut of $17 million from ambulance services next year — to $471 million from $488 million — and that the budget will be frozen at $478 million for the following 2 years. This will see our ambulance resources fall even further behind as our budget shrinks while demand grows as our province’s population continues to grow,” said Parker.

“We have heard this government say that frontline care won’t be cut. There’s nothing more front line than ambulance services and yet we’re seeing cuts. HSAA/NUPGE is seeking explanations from the Minister of Health and from AHS on how ambulance resources will meet the needs of Albertans," Parker added

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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