By Letter to the Editor on January 20, 2021.
Last week, Alberta Health Services took over ambulance response calls at call centres located nowhere near Lethbridge, without regard to the potential cost in local lives lost. It is clear that Minster Shandro and Premier Kenney show no understanding of the life-saving nature of integrated EMS dispatch in Lethbridge. Losing integrated dispatch means ultimately losing integrated emergency service response. Centralization means that fire medics will not be immediately dispatched in critical emergencies; there are Albertans alive today because fire medics responded when an ambulance was 15 to 20 minutes away. This unnecessary emergency health care cut will impact patient care.
The City of Lethbridge was prepared to pay $1.2 million to the province in order to keep the service as is. Paying the $1.2 million would prevent residents of Lethbridge having to spend $5 million in additional costs related to mitigating risk and to ensure the same service level for the community is maintained after EMS dispatch is removed. Premier Kenney and his government refused to discussed this proposal with Mayor Spearman. This clear disregard for Albertans puts their lives at risk with no opportunity to have a say.
We are calling on Minister Shandro and Premier Kenney to reconsider the consolidation and speak with Mayor Spearman regarding the City of Lethbridge’s proposal to compensate the province and keep the service based locally. Albertans deserve a government that is accountable and a premier and minster who will listen to our concerns and put our health first.
Premier Kenney and Minister Shandro, it was a bad idea in 2011, it was a bad idea in 2013, it was a bad idea in 2016, and it continues to be a bad idea today.
There is still time to do the right thing.
Lethbridge and District Labour Council President