“I’m confident this boost in EMS funding will strengthen the system and better serve all Albertans by adding capacity and improving efficiency,” said Premier Jason Kenney on Thursday. (Advocate file photo)

“I’m confident this boost in EMS funding will strengthen the system and better serve all Albertans by adding capacity and improving efficiency,” said Premier Jason Kenney on Thursday. (Advocate file photo)

UPDATE: Red Deer to benefit from provincial funding increase for ambulance service

12.2% jump in Emergency Medical Services funding

A 12 per cent increase in provincial funding announced for ambulance service in Alberta will help meet the high demand and improve response times in Red Deer, says the province.

On Thursday, the province said that Emergency Medical Services (EMS) funding in the 2022 provincial budget will increase by $64 million.

The cash infusion means both Red Deer and Lethbridge will see ambulance hours increase by 12 hours per day in each of the next two fiscal years.

Edmonton and Calgary will both receive five 24-7 ambulances in each of the next two fiscal years – a total of 20.

Mayor Ken Johnston said the double-digit funding increase is fantastic.

“It’s certainly going to help locally on the ground. We’re trying to bring resources to our own crews. I can’t think of a more busier, more stressful occupation,” Johnston said.

Related:

More ambulance “red alerts” issued in central Alberta, as cold spell drives up emergency calls

But he also looks forward to the recommendations that will come from a provincial emergency medical services advisory committee that the health minister launched in January to address issues like ambulances being held up at hospitals, inter-city transfers, and keeping ambulances local.

“Structurally there’s a lot of work to be done, and I’m really hoping these focus groups and third party review that are our health minister announced six weeks ago enables us to make some structural changes in how we deliver ambulance service not only in Red Deer, but across the province,” Johnston said.

“If COVID has taught us anything, it’s how our ambulance resources can be stretched to capacity and beyond. If we’re not taking some lessons out of that, we’re surely not being responsive as we need to be.”

Related:

Red Deer’s mayor meeting with health minister to try to restore local ambulance dispatching

Health Minister Jason Copping said EMS has been experiencing historic call volume and staffing pressures and the province is taking action by significantly increasing EMS funding to improve capacity and access.

“We’re committed to making sure EMS has the resources they need, and I thank all paramedics and EMS support staff for stepping up throughout the pandemic and continuing to be there when we need them,” Copping said in a statement.

The province said that Alberta Health Services is also making rapid progress implementing a 10-point plan to add EMS capacity and ensure the most critical patients receive immediate care. That includes adding ambulances and staff, and launching initiatives to keep suburban ambulances in their home communities more often. So far AHS has hired 66 staff and recruitment continues.

“I’m confident this boost in EMS funding will strengthen the system and better serve all Albertans by adding capacity and improving efficiency. We are investing a record level on health care in Budget 2022 to have a strong and resilient health system that can meet the needs of Albertans during and after this pandemic, when and where they need that care,” said Premier Jason Kenney in a statement.



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The $64 million cash infusion means both Red Deer and Lethbridge will see ambulance hours increase by 12 hours per day in each of the next two fiscal years. (Advocate file photo)

The $64 million cash infusion means both Red Deer and Lethbridge will see ambulance hours increase by 12 hours per day in each of the next two fiscal years. (Advocate file photo)