The mayors of four Alberta communities are now appealing to Premier Jason Kenney to overturn a decision on consolidating local emergency dispatch to one of three provincial centres.
Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced last Friday the province will be moving Lethbridge, Red Deer, Calgary, and Fort McMurray into a centralized system noting it’ll save about $6 million per year and provide more efficient dispatch.
However, Mayors Chris Spearman, Tara Veer, Naheed Nenshi and Don Scott stated during a news conference Tuesday (Oct. 20) they remain united against consolidation, saying it will actually result in slower response times, the end of valuable integrated Fire and EMS services and worse patient outcomes.
All four say the consolidation decision came as a surprise because they thought they were still in discussions with Shandro about the issue and now they feel as though the minister has failed to address their concerns.
“Our municipalities have extensive experience providing EMS dispatch that results in excellent patient outcomes. After just 16 months in office, Minister Shandro has decided to throw all of that away without any consultation with municipalities. His inability to provide rationale or data prior to delivering his letter to us on Friday, confirms this is a short sighted and reckless decision. Together, the Mayors of all four regions call on Cabinet, Caucus and Premier Kenney to review the fact and make the best decision for the health and safety of Albertans,” stated Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman in a news release.
The mayors say it’s up to Premier Kenney now to overturn the consolidation. They also encourage all Albertans to express their concerns to their local MLA in order to compel change.