Marvin Moore officially put an end to discussions with the town council over how a provincial ambulance service would be delivered. Weve been negotiating with them for over a year, Moore said at Tuesdays regular board meeting. There is no end to this. Weve already extended ourselves past what we should. Negotiations arent going anywhere and we have to get on with providing all of our services to everyone else up there.
Last spring, Peace River opted to not join Peace Country Health when it took over ambulance services, one of only two health authorities in Alberta to do so as a pilot study.
I dont think the board is getting the information, theyre being led and misled, said Mayor Lorne Mann. We should remind them we are the only place in Alberta not receiving money for ambulance, its outrageous. The two have been in ongoing negotiations after the town failed to hand over its integrated ambulance service last spring when PCH took over delivery of the service as one of two pilot projects.
One of the biggest successes throughout all of this has been with the staff, Nilsson explains. Staff morale has increased. People feel like they have a career now and not just a job. Nilsson goes on to say that ambulance services previously struggled with knowing where they fit in and under what organization their operation fell.
Source: camrosecanadian.comCAMROSE, AB - The Camrose EMS is a model for the province when it comes to the operation and governance of ambulance service but even they cannot function as efficiently and effectively as they should with a lack of provincial government funding. Gerry Galenza chairman of the Camrose EMS board is troubled by a provincial announcement that indicates the Ralph Klein government will not increase funding for ambulance services for the April 1, 2006 to March 31, 2007 period.
Cities want action on EMS
Transfer of ambulance services in limbo Three years after Alberta retreated from a plan to transfer ambulance services to health authorities -- and left the future of the emergency medical services in limbo -- several cities are calling on government to make a decision on the file.
With the recent appointment of a new provincial health minister, groups like the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association say Alberta Health should determine whether communities will continue to fund and run ambulances or if health regions should take over the service.
"One way or another, we'd like to put the issue to rest," said Lloyd Bertschi, president of the municipalities association, who is also the mayor of Morinville.
"It's been three years." Several organizations also said indecision on the issue has created uncertainty and made it difficult to decide whether to buy new ambulances and equipment since it's unclear who will hold the assets in the future.
"The longer there are unknowns attached to this, the more those unknowns could affect capital funding," said Darrell Reid, acting fire chief of Strathcona County Emergency Services.
Alberta Health officials say they have no timeline for when a decision might be made on ambulance funding and governance, noting Health Minister Ron Liepert was appointed little over a week ago.
"We have a new minister now. He'll want to get up to speed and make decisions," said Shannon Haggerty, a spokesperson with the department.
The debate follows Alberta's decision in the spring of 2005 to quash a planned transfer of ambulance services from municipalities to health regions. The transition was intended to relieve financial pressure on cash-strapped cities.
But the province changed its mind just weeks before the transfer was to take place, scrapping the proposal after cost estimates nearly tripled from the original $55 million.
The decision outraged dozens of communities that had eliminated the cost of their ambulance service from their budget and were left with an unexpected bill. Iris Evans, who was then health minister, later provided funding to help communities with the tab.
She also announced that the transfer would proceed in two health regions -- Palliser and Peace Country -- as a pilot project. A committee, charged with examining the issue, filed its recommendations with Alberta Health some time ago and was told late last year it had been officially disbanded.
The committee's report has never been released.
Alberta Health acknowledges that in the three years since the transfer was scrapped, little has changed.
Most municipalities are still running the ambulance programs, although they are receiving financial assistance from the province that wasn't available before the 2005 transfer gaffe.
"For now, it's status quo," Haggerty said.
Meanwhile, opinions vary widely on whether the government should proceed with the transfer.
Cities and health regions around the province note that ambulance services operate on different models, making it difficult to find a solution that will work for everyone.
In centres like Calgary, for example, the ambulance service is integrated with other city emergency services like police and fire at the same locations.
"Calgary EMS is very embedded into the city," said Tom Sampson, chief of EMS, who sat on the advisory committee that examined ambulance services. "How do you extract (EMS)?" Sampson said he hopes the province will provide more funding, but leave ambulance operations with the city.
Some smaller communities, however, support transferring ambulance service to the health regions.
Didsbury Mayor Brian Wittal said ambulances are essentially a medical service and he believes health regions may be able to better integrate services if they were transferred.
In Palliser Health Region, where the transfer has gone ahead as part of the pilot project, officials say the new system is working well.
Officials say staff members are now Palliser employees, allowing the health region to make better use of paramedics by having them run flu clinics and education programs.
A decision is needed, said Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier. We "need to know the province's view on the long-term future of EMS."
Looks like everything is working well in Palliser eh paradrol!
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