Municipal ambulance program frozen at $55 million for three years
Edmonton (22 April 2007) - The Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE) says ambulance funding, a key component of the provincial health care system, was ignored in the first budget of Premier Ed Stelmach.
“The annual funding for the municipal ambulance program has been frozen at $55 million for the past three years," says HSAA president Elisabeth Ballermann.
"This budget doesn’t allocate one more dollar for a service that is vital to the health care of Albertans. Total ambulance funding has actually been cut in relation to inflation and population growth pressures,” Ballermann noted.
“The budget makes small steps to address health workforce shortages which HSAA has been talking about for years. However, it’s going to take more than $30 million to move beyond platitudes (to real) recruitment, retention and repatriation of health care professionals."
Ballermann said thousands of health care workers left Alberta during years of cutbacks by the previous government, opting to re-establish careers and homes elsewhere. "How can a call to return home be implemented when $30 million won’t come close to addressing the shortage that will run into the thousands of health care workers?” she asked.
On a positive note, Ballermann said HSAA applauds the Stelmach government's decision to finally raise taxes on tobacco, something that should have been done years ago. "The next step is to adopt a province-wide smoking ban,” she said.
HSAA represents more than 14,000 professional, technical, support and ambulance workers in Alberta’s health care system. NUPGE