Concerns continue to be raised about the level of ambulance service in rural Alberta and in the province in general.

MD of Foothills Councillor Suzanne Oel says the problem is when ambulances from rural areas end up in the city and get stuck there.

"They might move other ambulances around, but sometimes that leaves a really, really huge area without coverage," said Oel. "This isn't new. It is just something over time we were hoping people would care enough to do something about it. It hasn't worked, so bringing it up again is important."

Oel says it is very important for rural residents to call government officials and make sure the issue stays in the conversation.

"Your contact, your information and your lobbying it is really, really vital because they have heard from a lot of us already and we are still waiting for an improvement."

She adds they don't necessarily have to throw a whole bunch of money at the issue.

"It could be just making it more efficient. There are a number of different things we could do."

The problem is they don't have any firm numbers or data to show that taking ambulances out of rural areas to cover off shortages in the city is harmful.

"We have enough incidents and enough trouble, that we still want to ask for these solutions. It comes to a head when the union starts to speak up."

President of the Union of Healthcare Professionals Mike Parker said this week the number of EMS calls increased by 19.4 per cent from 2012 to 2017 with EMS going to 390,511 calls in 2017.

With the 2019 budget the Province announced an additional six percent in funding for EMS services.

"We're relieved to see that the government has abandoned the two-year spending freeze on ambulance services it proposed last year. The six-percent increase of $29 million in that item this year should help provide some of the extra ambulances and paramedics that Albertans desperately need," said Parker.

 

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