April 17th, 2021

City to seek control of EMS dispatch

By Lethbridge Herald on February 24, 2021.

Tim Kalinowski
Lethbridge Herald
City council has voted to pass a resolution to explore the possibility of once again assuming local EMS dispatch control from AHS in support of the RM of Wood Buffalo, and to have the City’s legal advisers sit in on the province’s injunction case against Wood Buffalo on Mar. 9-11.
Since Wood Buffalo assumed control of its local dispatch again last week, Mayor Chris Spearman acknowledged he had received a “positive” letter last Tuesday from Minister of Health Tyler Shandro, who says he is now willing to sit down with the municipalities of Calgary, Lethbridge, Wood Buffalo and Red Deer to discuss things, but said now was not the time to take the “foot off the pedal” as he requested his council colleagues support his resolution.
“We would like to do the same thing, I think, Alberta Health Services and Alberta Health wants to do, and that is to provide the best possible service. I think it is important to have good, positive dialogue. We need a strong resolution that says to Alberta Health Services and the Minister that we mean business, but we are also interested in a positive, proactive way of dealing with the inefficiencies in the best interest of all those people who we serve.”
Spearman was supported in his position by most of city council and Fire Chief Marc Rathwell.
“There is now way I actually believe we can follow what Wood Buffalo did in terms of the quick changeover to actually take over the dispatch piece– that is just not a functional piece for us,” Rathwell stated bluntly. “But I do believe what we can do is still be there at the table to hold Alberta Health Services accountable for these decisions.”
Both Councillors Joe Mauro and Blaine Hyggen opposed taking a more aggressive posture toward the provincial government represented by this resolution given Minister Shandro has already agreed to meet with representatives of the municipalities on Mar. 4.
“I guess I am not quite that harsh with the province,” stated Mauro. “I believe we make mistakes here at council in some of the things we do, and the province, clearly, makes mistakes in some of the decisions they make. But from what I am hearing is we are being heard, and so if we are being heard why would I want to now, in my mind, appear to be somewhat confrontational?”
However, Coun. Ryan Parker, who was echoed by other members of council, said he did not believe passing this type of resolution represented an aggressive or confrontational posture, as Mauro and Hyggen categorized it.
“I think the resolution is in no way confrontational, as I read it,” he stated. “It is just showing support for a colleague in another municipality who put their money where their mouth was. We are saying they did the right thing, and, for lack of a better term, we got your back.”
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