CALGARY City Council should vote on Monday, Nov. 22, to keep its emergency medical services (EMS) under municipal control and not move it to the regional health authority, Calgary Paramedics urged today.
The paramedics, members of Local 3421 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, say a partnership agreement can be signed with the Calgary Health Region (CHR) that is in line with the provincial governments funding framework for ground ambulance services.
Continued delivery of EMS by the City of Calgary is essential to secure and enhance service excellence, community responsiveness and accountability, said Bruce Robb, president of CUPE Local 3421.
Too many questions are raised with the proposal to move EMS to the Calgary Health Region, Robb said. How will we maintain accountability and ensure adequate and sustainable funding? How will the so-called new EMS model be integrated with Calgary Fire and Police services?
Calgary EMS is widely recognized as an exemplary service, leading other cities to study it as a model, including Ottawa, Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Edmonton.
Clearly, the system isnt broken so lets not try and fix it, Robb said.
In a brief to city council, Robb argued that a loss of local control could compromise community safety through funding cuts, reduced service and increased ambulance wait times.
Robb noted that the EMSs annual operating budget of $19.6 million was less than the health regions projected deficit of $25 million for the year 2004. The question of adequate and sustainable funding has never been fully addressed in the proposal to move EMS governance and funding to the Calgary health region, he said.
The City of Calgary has provided transparent, responsive and accountable governance of its EMS for 33 years, Robb said. In turn, our EMS consistently ranks among the top services for its quality and importance in annual Citizen Satisfaction surveys. Lets keep EMS under city control and move forward together.
Bruce Robb, CUPE Local 3421 President, (403) 263-5883;
David Robbins, CUPE Communications, (613) 878-1431 (cell).