Alberta’s EMS systems at risk as ambulance gets axe

Health-care union fears other programs may be cut.

Edmonton (31 Jan. 2013) – The cancellation of a much-needed ambulance in Camrose should be a warning to all Albertans that spending cuts are threatening health care across the province, says the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE).

“There is no doubt that this ambulance, which provides service during peak hours in Camrose, is needed. It was introduced as a six-month pilot project in 2010. The fact it has been kept busy as part of regular operations since then clearly demonstrates that this is a service upon which the people of Camrose rely,” says Elisabeth Ballermann, HSAA President, which represents more than 23,000 paramedical technical, professional and general support employees in health care.

“The only reason for the cancellation of the Camrose Peak Car is budgetary. There’s a squeeze on spending, so this vital service has been axed – and it is patients in Camrose who will pay the price. As we have said before, when health-care spending is cut, patients bleed,” says Ballermann.

“Last year, HSAA/NUPGE revealed system-wide problems with EMS resources. Alberta Health Services (AHS) has taken some steps to address those issues, with some success.

“It is ironic that the Camrose ambulance is being axed on January 31, the day the Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) is due to deliver its report on Alberta ground ambulance services to the Minister of Health,” she says.

“The Alberta government’s inability, or unwillingness, to fix our broken revenue system means the lives of Albertans are now being put on the line. We fear the situation will only get worse in the forthcoming budget and can only assume that other health-care services are also on the chopping block.

“The Premier of Alberta says she wants a conversation about revenue and spending. We suggest that the next time someone is left waiting for an ambulance or any other health-care service, she ask the patient what he or she thinks. They’ll say what Albertans have always said – that they favour a fair taxation and revenue system to a health-care system that has once again been decimated by needless cuts,” says Ballermann.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good.

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