An NDP press conference today spoke on the struggles healthcare continues to face, and how communities like Strathmore have been impacted.
Alberta NDP Municipal Affairs Critic Joe Ceci said the NDP acquired documents from Alberta Health Services (AHS), which revealed that ambulances from the communities of Airdrie, Chestermere, Cochrane, and Strathmore have been dispatched to Calgary more than 30,000 times in the last three years.
"When there are no ambulances to help Albertans in the city, that means resources must be pulled from other communities," Ceci said
From this 30 000, Strathmore sent 3,159 in the 2022/23 term. This is nearly quadruple the amount from 2019/20, which was 857. Airdrie, Cochrane and Chestermere saw similar increases.
Ceci explained that ambulances going to different communities isn't new, but the frequency it has to happen puts communities like Strathmore at a bigger risk.
"If an Albertan is in distress of course the nearest available ambulance should respond immediately, regardless of where that Albertan is. That's been happening routinely for many years. But the longer a community needs to divert its ambulances to other communities increases the risk that an ambulance would not be available to ride in its own communities when needed."
Ceci went on to criticize UCP MLAs Angela Pitt, Peter Guthrie, and Leela Aheer for not doing anything to address this, and called on them and the UCP as a whole to listen to what the paramedics need.
"The trends we are seeing are distressing and must be a call for action. We do not need more reports, we do not need more committees, Albertans need this UCP government to listen to the paramedics and the front lines and act."
Ceci pointed to three things the UCP could do that paramedics have been asking for, which could help the situation:
1. Paramedics have to get off shift on time. Exhaustion and burn out are decimating crews.
2. All paramedics must be offered permanent fulltime jobs instead of 89 day contracts with no benefits and job security.
3. More harm reduction services to ease strain on ambulances. The drug poisoning crisis is causing strain on the healthcare system.
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