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NEWS RELEASE · 10th February 2010
Ministry of Health Services
The Ministry of Health Services has launched a consultation with stakeholders to determine the best model to deliver ambulance services in British Columbia.

The consultation follows the release of a report from industrial inquiry commissioner Chris Trumpy, who was appointed by Minister of Labour Murray Coell to come up with options to improve service delivery and the structure of collective bargaining for the Emergency and Health Services Commission and the union representing paramedics, CUPE Local 873.

The consultation, which will occur over the next three weeks, will focus specifically on three options outlined in the commissioner's report:

- Closer integration with the health system.
- Close integration with other emergency service providers.
- Opportunities for private sector service delivery.

Senior Ministry of Health Services staff are expected to consult with a variety of stakeholders from within the provincial government, health- sector unions, other emergency health-service providers and the private sector.

The government has made it clear that regardless of the option chosen, it remains committed to a provincially co-ordinated system of ambulance service delivery.

BC Ambulance Service and CUPE 873 continue to have productive discussions at the bargaining table and are making progress on a number of different issues that have been identified as being priorities for both sides. The government is hopeful that through this consultation and ongoing discussions that a new contract can be developed before the current one expires on March 31, 2010.

BC Ambulance Service budget rose 75 per cent in the past eight years - from $181 million in 2001-02 to an estimated $310 million in 2009-10.

BCAS operates 187 ambulance stations with a fleet consisting of 480 ambulances, 47 support vehicles and nine dedicated ambulance aircraft across the province.

It is what happens
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 12th February 2010
Government always find it more convenient to create a problem by stealth or exaggerate a problem and then and pretend that they have the solution. Most schemes to privatize work that way as did the BC Rail sell off. It is all based on the premise that the public's attention span is short and the mainstream media won't investigate the cause and effect relationship in any issue. In fact most of the media, except for the independent variety, categorizes this technique as political deftness.
Comment by Samantha on 11th February 2010
It's an interesting note that in the last EIGHT years the ambulance budget has risen 75%. Isn't that right around the time a certain government came into power and slashed healthcare and various services.

Services and healthcare that maybe in turn would be helping to care for the people of this province without jeopordizing their health to the point of requiring ambulances... or maybe simply people feel an ambulance helps you butt in line at the ER. Nobody likes to wait.
Is this what happens?
Comment by Samantha on 11th February 2010
Is this what happens when one group speaks out against unfair treatment by government? They get slashed, gutted and sold to the highest bidder?

Where is our Democracy??
I'm not sure integration is necesary.
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 11th February 2010
We currently have a permanent, full-time ambulance attendants. I'm not sure that going back to volunteers would be the best option. A local dispatch certainly would be an improvement. The province got away from that in order to same money but it had serious consequences.

One needs to read "beyond the message" in government press releases. We have had a lot of experience with how they "save money" in the rural areas while all the while spending to prop up the economy down south.

Maybe if the consultation was conducted by other than ministry employees basing the discussion on something other than a minister appointed person's report it might be less worrisome. The BC Legislature should appoint and the report should be back to the legislature and the perception of possible political bias would not be present.
Thank You paramedics, all vintages.
Comment by bill (braam) on 11th February 2010
Just to clarify, I do also recognize the early ambulance pioneers here in Terrace, they were very committed to deliver ambulance care and at a volunteer effort also. I include them all in my term "paramedic' from the very earliest to the latest, a big Thank You.
Comment by Barry on 11th February 2010
James you are right. The best option would be to re-intergrate the ambulance service with the Fire department, and dispatch them from the local area.
Helmut, I hope you're wrong
Comment by Barry on 11th February 2010
I don't have enough faith in our government to believe that the best interests of British Columbians would be served by this inquiry. I hope that Helmut is wrong in saying that the options of intergrating the Ambulance service are only a smokescreen, but I'm afraid that he is right.

Given this government's attitude towards privatization of everything, and the very short time span of the inquiry, I'm afraid that the decision has already been made, and that the request for submissions from private providers( Probably from out of the province) has already been prepared. They are only waiting for the furor to die down a bit before they release it.

As I said, I hope that Helmut and I are wrong, but I doubt it.
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 10th February 2010
Getting a local ambulance service as part of BC Ambulance is a separate issue from where the dispatch center is. You are correct about the dispatch center folks not knowing the area and there have been a few serious mistakes made because of it.
Comment by J Ippel on 10th February 2010
I knew your father, and I also know his life was saved many times by the Paramedic. Now, lets place credit where credit is due. Those paramedics in those days were the volunteers from the local Fire Department. Having worked in close proximatey with these volunteers, I know that their response time was three to five minuutes within the City of Terrace, (from time of call out) to a maximun of 7 minutes for Thornhill and area.
Since the Dispatch of the Ambulance Service was taken from the local Fire Department, service has suffered; not because of the dedication of the people locally working for the Ambulance Service, but because of the lack of knowledge of the people in the Dispatch Centre in Kamloops. They can look at whatever map they have at their disposal, but lack of knowledge of the local area leads to major screw ups.
We are unfortunately experiencing the same scenario with the RCMP dispatch. They have moved their OCC to Prince George. A number of dispatchers from Terrace moved to PG but they are assigned to Dawson Creek, Williams Lake, Points east of PG It is truly un nerving to listen to dispatchers unfamiliar with the area to attempt directing our Police Officers to the right area in time of crisis. Our service people are being placed in jeopardy because some rocket scientist thinks he/she can save a nickle.
It's the third option that is the key.
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 10th February 2010
The first two are just a distraction. It is all about setting the stage for a U.S. company to take over the Provincial Ambulance Service and do it for profit.
some of us really rely on EHS
Comment by bill (braam) on 10th February 2010
Some of us really rely on the ambulance service to keep loved ones alive. My own father's life was saved many, many times over the years when his diabetes got the better of him. He managed to live out a full life thanks to those dedicated paramedics. I surely hope that 'the reinvention of the wheel' will not hinder anybodys quality of life. Thank you.