Alberta Paramedics blame PC budget cuts for EMS system breakdown, urge Albertans to vote for change

A group of Alberta Paramedics are blaming Premier Jim Prentice’s Progressive Conservatives for the “complete system breakdown” that brought Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in Edmonton Zone to a grinding halt yesterday, and are urging Albetans to vote at today’s election.

The breakdown, which led to code reds or “no ambulances available” being called in both Calgary and Edmonton, is a result of PC government’s decision to slash the EMS budget by 3.3% while paying Alberta Health Services(AHS) CEO Vickie Kaminski over $500,000 a year, the group “Alberta EMS Code Red” claimed on their Facebook page.

This was the view at the Grey Nuns Hospital in Edmonton today. We have been getting reports of a complete system…

Posted by Alberta EMS Code Red on Monday, 4 May 2015

They warn that the system is still under heavy strain as of 8:30AM today in Edmonton, with only 27 ambulances staffed for the day and only 10 available to do 9-11 calls because of the volume in calls this morning.

“We let a government set a course that went unchecked for 40 years and they have allowed us to collide with an iceberg despite all the warnings of the economic forecast,” the group said in another Facebook post. “Now as the P.C.’s ship starts to capsize we see the rotten underbelly of her unmaintained hull. Billions of corporate dollars owed and not collected, no savings, no future plan, a broken middle class, and the social programs we pride ourselves on have all been gutted…we are sinking because we did not speak up.”

“Voting is the voice of a free people, a right that your ancestors have fought and died throughout the ages for, a gift to the future generations to ensure that you would always be able to speak,” they added. “Voting is the act of rebellion against the established order, the protest song of the people, and the one thing we the people have to unite us so that we may never again have to act in violent revolution.”

According to the group, Vickie Kaminiski sent out an AHS-wide communique after the budget stating there would a reduced budget and the actions that would be taken: 

In looking for opportunities, there are certain actions we will not take. For instance, we will not:
– Reduce the number of acute or continuing care beds.
– Reduce the number of surgeries.
– Reduce cancer treatment.
– Reduce home care services.
– Reduce access to emergency departments.
There may be changes in how and who delivers a particular service but quantity and quality will not be reduced.
AHS is committed to providing safe and quality health care to Albertans

Shortly thereafter, Edmonton staff received an email from their Executive Director, Dale Weiss, in which he said:

Reflective of the current economic situation $370 million will be removed from the funding to AHS for 2015/16. This represents a 3.3% reduction that does not include any adjustments to collective agreements, contract costs, increases to services requested by an aging and growing population, and other operational costs that increase over the year.

That being said, the EMS management team was not surprised by this announcement as we have been spending the last few months working on ways that we can meet our financial restrictions while supporting staff and patient care. Strategies that we must look at do not reduce our ongoing concern for resourcing levels. We are very concerned that we have seen substantial call volume growth over the last number of years and that increasingly EMS units are waiting longer in Emergency Departments to offload both emergency and transfer patients. Most recently we are concerned about strategies that may be taken to address the Rural Health Report that came out this week. All of these issues have stretched EMS past its capacity and we hear from staff how this impacts them every day throughout the Zone.

The paramedics claim that the major issue with this announcement is that EMS has been an underfunded vital service for the better part of 10 years.

“In a time when the mental and physical well being of the EMS staff members are at an absolute breaking point this government looks to push the service even further,” Alberta EMS Code Red said. “There has been a continual and almost daily occurrence of Code Red’s happening far longer than appropriate.

One Response to Alberta Paramedics blame PC budget cuts for EMS system breakdown, urge Albertans to vote for change

  1. Anonymous says:

    Vote PC and die waiting for an ambulance.

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