Red Deer MLAs Adriana LaGrange and Jason Stephan, standing behind Premier Jason Kenney during the last election campaign, voted against a motion that would have restored local ambulance dispatching services. (Advocate file photo).

Red Deer MLAs Adriana LaGrange and Jason Stephan, standing behind Premier Jason Kenney during the last election campaign, voted against a motion that would have restored local ambulance dispatching services. (Advocate file photo).

Red Deer MLAs vote against motion to restore local ambulance dispatching

Red Deer’s mayor said they chose to toe party line over representing constituents’ best interest

Red Deer’s two UCP MLAs chose political partisanship over protecting their constituents’ interests by opposing a motion that would have restored local ambulance dispatching, says Red Deer’s mayor.

“Monday’s vote speaks to the challenge of party politics and the conflict between partisanship and the party line, and the need for our political representatives to represent the community’s opinion,” said Mayor Tara Veer.

Red Deer North MLA Adriana LaGrange and Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan joined their UCP cohort on Monday by voting against restoring local ambulance service in the legislature — despite a long campaign by Red Deer’s mayor, city council and Emergency Services Chief Ken McMullen to sound the alarm over how consolidated ambulance dispatching jeopardizes public health.

Veer, who’s repeatedly stated local dispatching saves lives and is in the community’s interest, said their vote was “deflating” but not surprising.

LaGrange and Stephan explained their positions in emails to the Advocate. The MLAs stated that Alberta Health Services has used the consolidated system to dispatch ambulances successfully for 60 per cent of Albertans since 2009, including the Edmonton area.

They added the change-over occurred nearly two months ago and is “working well.”

LaGrange and Stephan said AHS has reviewed and responded to all of the specific concerns raised by Red Deer, and assured them that the switch has not impacted performance.

Meanwhile, the Mayors of Red Deer, Calgary, Lethbridge, and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, have been lobbying the government for months to step in and reverse Alberta Health Services’ decision to consolidate ambulance dispatch to a few centralized hubs.

The change took place in January, but the four communities want to bring back a local ambulance dispatch system that’s integrated with local fire dispatch, saying it works best since they have cross-trained fire-medics.

Veer said she and McMullen has multiple meetings with LaGrange and Stephan to explain their concerns. “They’ve been afforded technical briefings… we’ve toured them through the dispatch centre…”

Since January, McMullen has spoken out about some ambulances being misdirected by dispatchers unfamiliar with the area. He said some sick or injured people have also waited too long for far-away ambulance crews to arrive, while local fire-medics — who were closer and cross-trained to help at medical emergencies — were sitting in their stations, unaware of the 911 ambulance calls.

Related:

-Red Deer loses local ambulance dispatching

-Glitches already noticed in new dispatching system

-Kenney restates support for centralized dispatch

Monday’s defeated legislature motion urged the government to take into consideration the views of the residents of Calgary, Lethbridge, and Red Deer, “who are well served by a local, integrated model of emergency dispatch,” and take immediate steps to reverse the decision to implement the centralization of the dispatch of emergency medical services.

It was shot down by a vote of 22-7. Only NDP MLAs voted for it.

Veer noted Fort-McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Tany Yao chose to abstain rather than voting along with his other UCP members, in recognition of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s battle to restore local ambulance dispatching service.

LaGrange said she opposed the bill because “Minister Shandro respects the cities’ concerns and has put a process in place for Alberta Health and AHS to work with the City of Red Deer to continue to improve EMS services, including reinvesting every dollar saved directly back into improving ground ambulance services.

“I’m confident that continued oversight and review on how the new service is working will continue during this transition period,” LaGrange said, adding “The NDP’s attempt to politicize the issue for their own purposes adds nothing.”

This story has been corrected to reflect Monday’s vote was concerning a motion and not a bill.

red deer city

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Red Deer Rebels will have three new assistant coaches when the WHL regular season starts on Friday. Brad Flynn (left), will be on the bench alongside fellow assistant Ryan Colville (right) head coach Brent Sutter (middle). (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Sutter steps down as Red Deer Rebels head coach

Red Deer Rebels Owner, GM and head coach Brent Sutter has stepped… Continue reading

Premier Jason Kenney announced $200 million more money that will benefit seniors living in continuing care on Wednesday. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s in-school rapid screening test program expanding

Alberta’s in-school rapid screening test program will expand to as many as… Continue reading

Parents and students learned Tuesday what the coming school year will look like. It's pretty much back to business as usual, said Education Minister Adriana LaGrange. School precautions include frequent cleaning, keeping students in the same groups where possible, planning the school day to allow for physical distancing and staying home when sick. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s largest school board says no to United Conservative draft school curriculum

CALGARY — Alberta’s largest school board says it will not use the… Continue reading

Cowboy Kicks, originally scheduled for May 5, will now take place Sept. 18. (Contributed photo)
Westerner Park’s Cowboy Kicks fundraiser moved to Sept. 18

A major fundraiser for Westerner Park and the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sport… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Josh Tarzwell tries to tip a point shot past Lethbridge Hurricanes goalie Car Tetachuk in WHL action Friday night at the Centrium. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels struggles continue, drop seventh straight to Hurricanes

Hurricanes score three power-play goals in 6-3 win

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan is among those who have signed an open letter criticizing the government’s return to stricter health measures. (Advocate file photo).
Updated: Kenney tells UCP caucus COVID-19 dissent OK, breaking health rules means expulsion

15 MLAs released letter on Wednesday critical of new health restrictions

Owner of 4 Point Taekwondo Kevin Mejia holds a board as organizer and martial artist Kevin Olsen breaks it in Edmonton on Friday, April 9, 2021. One hundred martial artists from around the world, will be breaking a board for an event called "Break for a Breakthrough." The idea is for martial artists to unite and re-engage with the arts because they may have drifted away or lost enthusiasm as a result of the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Break for a Breakthrough: Canadian hosts international martial arts demonstration

EDMONTON — Whether he’s breaking a wooden board, a clay tile, cement… Continue reading

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Ediburgh, left, look on as Manitoba Beaver peaks out of his box at a July 14, 1970 ceremony in which Hudson's Bay Company observed an old tradition. The death of Prince Philip has reminded a small French village in Manitoban about how a royal visit half a century ago made the community the centre of frog racing in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Prince Philip’s frog-jumping legacy in a Manitoba French community

WINNIPEG — The death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, has reminded… Continue reading

The Yukon provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday July 6, 2020. Yukon residents will head to the polls on Monday for Canada's fourth election held during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Yukon residents set to vote in fourth election held in Canada during pandemic

WHITEHORSE — Yukon residents will head to the polls on Monday for… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole, former PM Harper speak on ‘build back right’ for pandemic recovery

OTTAWA — Top Tory leaders of the past and present will speak… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Tuesday, March 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals set to debate universal basic income, pharmacare, OAS hike

OTTAWA — Grassroots Liberals have taken up Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s call… Continue reading

Students enter the Pierre Laporte Secondary School as secondary school students return to class full time during the COVID-19 pandemic in Montreal, Monday, March 29, 2021. Pandemic-fuelled frustration has some teens expressing anger in unhealthy ways after a year of missed social connections that would typically help them mature and regulate their emotions, says a psychiatrist calling for more education on coping skills as part of the school curriculum. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Teach students coping skills to deal with anger, including during pandemic: doctor

Pandemic-fuelled frustration has some teens expressing anger in unhealthy ways after a… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday’s $25 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $25 million jackpot… Continue reading

jobs - T - 3-6-2020
Finding a job: 3 job search truisms you need to accept

A job search has many moving parts; your mindset is the most… Continue reading

Most Read