Alberta Health Services was granted an interim injunction Friday against a decision made by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo – which attempted to break away from the province’s emergency dispatch system.
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Kent Davidson heard a joint application from Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services, to require the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo to send medical calls to AHS dispatch.
He granted an interim injunction until the full case can be heard.
“The public interest weighs very heavily in this case,” Davidson said Friday in his decision. “There is a strong public interest in the enforcement of the law and … the position of the applicant in this matter seems to be stronger.”
“This is not a step we take lightly, however it is necessary to ensure ambulances continue to be dispatched appropriately, and that patient care is not put at risk,” AHS said in a press release.
“The municipality has not provided any evidence to AHS to suggest that the recent consolidation of EMS dispatch has led to any delays or inappropriate responses. In addition, the municipality has not provided any information that would back up their public claims that they need to intervene in specific EMS calls due to integration of dispatch.”
In a response posted to their website, RMWB Mayor Don Scott said the region will continue to fight back against the decision.
“The result of this extraordinary legal action by the Government of Alberta temporarily overturns a unanimous decision of a legally constituted municipal council. Most concerning, given recent experience, it will negatively affect patient outcomes in my region,” he said.
“Wood Buffalo has a proud history of resilience and solidarity, and in this unprecedented situation, I appreciate that the court of public opinion weighs heavily in our favour. I remain resolved to continue this fight in the courts of Alberta.”
Earlier this week, Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said she was considering following in Wood Buffalo’s footsteps. Veer did indicate at the time that Red Deer is in a different situation because AHS had already removed dispatching equipment, including computers, monitors and radios from the Red Deer centre.
In mid-January, Red Deer, the Municipal District of Wood Buffalo, Lethbridge and Calgary were forced by AHS to give up their local ambulance dispatching systems.
The four mayors had fought for months to retain local ambulance dispatch service, which had been integrated with local fire dispatch in their communities, all 911-ambulance calls started to be transferred to consolidated central dispatching centres in Calgary or Edmonton.
– With files from The Canadian Press