Alberta’s UCP government is going ahead with consolidating EMS dispatch.
Mayors of four cities were informed on Friday afternoon (Oct. 16) that the province will indeed be moving Lethbridge, Red Deer, Calgary, and Fort McMurray into a centralized system.
The mayors have been expressing concerns for weeks, asking the government to not go down this road saying these changes will result in reduced ambulance response times and cost lives.
This past summer, the UCP government says consolidating local EMs dispatch will save around $6 million a year, however those wanting things to stay as they are don’t buy that number.
Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman is very disappointed and says this decision by the Health Minister is based on inaccurate information.
“There hasn’t been enough consultation,” stated Spearman in an interview with our radio station on Friday. “The Ernst & Young study has no input from municipalities. We don’t believe the $6 million will actually be saved. There will be real costs to municipalities and create inefficiencies.”
Lethbridge has been especially concerned given this city’s long-time integrated Fire and EMS Service.
In contrast to the Health Minister, Mayor Spearman says areas served by Alberta Health Services dispatch have indicated that service has declined since AHS started handling it. “We have written evidence from municipalities such as Foothills that say the service levels declined dramatically with some of the (ambulance) response times over an hour.”
The fight though may not be over yet.
Mayor Spearman says the mayors will certainly go back and make their case again to the minister (Tyler Shandro) and to government MLAs to make sure they know lives will be impacted by the decision.