Rural Emergency Medical Services

Mr. Stier: Mr. Speaker, for over five and
a half years I and other members of this House have been raising serious concerns regarding
the vast array of problems with the rural ambulance system. Despite constant complaints by residents,
elected officials, and EMS paramedics, patients across Alberta continue to feel the impact
because of this failed system. Ambulance time wasted on nonemergency transfers,
flexing of units into other communities, paramedics needlessly tied up for hours in emergency
departments, units not being returned to their home regions, and faulty centralized dispatch
protocols continue to plague the system. These problems were emphasized once again
recently, when on November 15, 2017, a number of Alberta paramedics came to the Legislature
in desperation, claiming that the number of events that led to emergency calls has increased
nearly 36 per cent since 2009 while the population of Alberta has increased by more than 15 per
cent, yet we have virtually the same number of ambulances. They added that resources have been stretched
to the breaking point. Injured and sick Albertans are paying the
price for the lack of resources as they wait for help to arrive. Paramedics also pay the price with increased
stress and mental health injuries. Over the years several significant reports
have been conducted on these problems, including that of the Health Quality Council of Alberta,
Rural Health Services Review Committee, the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts
and Counties, the central Alberta municipalities group, and the southern paramedics that produced
the suburban-rural EMS deployment review. Yet this government ignores all of this. It’s time to give our paramedics the resources
they need, that we return to local dispatch, that we stop the practice of using ambulances
as taxis, that ambulances are released from emergency rooms within an hour and are then
mandatorily returned to their home regions. These are solutions that United Conservatives
will continue to advocate for. We will fight tirelessly to put Albertans
first and fix these critical ambulance problems once and for all. Thank you

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