There is a glimmer of hope in the fight to retain regional ambulance dispatch in Red Deer.
Mayor Tara Veer said on Thursday that city council is not changing its position that regional ambulance dispatch is essential for timely, effective and safe integrated fire and ambulance service in Central Alberta after a meeting with Health Minister Fred Horne at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association annual meeting in Calgary.
The minister said he would delay consolidation in order to establish a working group to hopefully resolve concerns from both municipal and provincial perspectives.
The minister told Veer said the province has heard similar concerns from other municipalities with integrated fire and ambulance services.
Veer said Horne did not commit that he would revisit the consolidation decision but they took it as a sign that the province is hearing the real concerns of integrated service providers.
The city took a formal position earlier this month, calling on the province to revisit its decision to centralize ambulance dispatch to Edmonton, Calgary and Peace River.
“That remains our position, unless it can be demonstrated otherwise (that) there would be no degradation of ambulance service,” said Veer.
The transfer was expected to take place sometime in March but now is expected to occur in late spring or early summer.
Veer said council recognizes that the provincial government is looking at this from a broader perspective.
“Red Deer city council has expressed a strong willingness to work with the province to find the best possible means to resolve their broader patient outcomes but we know that regional ambulance dispatch is essential to our ability to provide timely, and effective and safe, integrated fire and ambulance service,” said Veer.
Each year, the service provides ambulance and fire service to an estimated 300,000 residents outside of Red Deer. The city provides fire dispatch to 70 municipalities and ambulance dispatch to eight municipalities.
Members of Red Deer city council are at the annual AUMA convention in Calgary.