After years of uncertainty, the City of Red Deer has inked a new five-year ambulance contract with the province.
On Monday, council voted 7-1 to accept a new Emergency Medical Services contract for a term of July 1, 2014 to March 31, 2019 with the option of two, two-year extensions. Council also endorsed a Memorandum of Understanding which establishes guiding principles.
Mayor Tara Veer said she is thrilled to bring resolution to an issue which uncertainty to the service locally and throughout the province.
She said this contract solidifies a significant unknown in the community around operations and the city’s ability to make commitments on public safety.
Coun. Lawrence Lee voted against the motion citing concerns over a one-year exit strategy clause in the contract.
Lee said he has full confidence in today’s government but he does not know what it will be after the elections.
“I needed something to be more rigid and with more formality,” said Lee. “Or at least put an attachment of financial responsibility to that clause … It’s something that does not make sense to me. We have a five-year agreement but you can get out of the agreement year by year.”
Coun. Ken Johnston said the contract gives the city five years to continue to develop the trust and continue to develop the working relationship with the provicne.
Director of Corporate Services Paul Goranson said retaining the ambulance dispatch and negotiating the ambulance contract work together to ensure there’s high quality service in the community.
In 1962, the city became one of the first municipalities in Alberta to provide an integrated fire and ambulance service.
But in April 2009, the provincial government took over ambulance service and governance from municipalities in the province and assigned the responsibility over to Alberta Health Services. The city negotiated a two-year contract that expired in March 2011. The city agreed to various extensions of the contract up until the new contract was signed.