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(Edmonton) City Council has deferred a motion to city administration that urges Council to move Emergency Services to the Regional Health Authority, but the threat to municipal-based emergency response services is still alive, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) says.

The motion has been deferred to the July 4th City Council Meeting.

Last night, councilors deferred a controversial motion to sell off emergency services to the Regional Health Authority (RHA), widely seen to be the wrong way to ensure quality municipal emergency services.

Randy Littlechild, President of CUPE Local 3197, challenged the wisdom of deferring the issue back to the city administration rather than voting it down.

It defies common sense to remove municipal oversight on emergency services like this, said Littlechild. We remain hopeful that the administration will reflect this and that councilors will see reason.

Littlechild said that moving the service from municipal control increases the risk that EMS would be privatized.

Moving to a contractual relationship with the RHA would be a stepping stone to privatization, he said. Right now, the City of Edmonton has governance over the service, and citizens have a vested interest in the quality of service, as well as avenues to accountability.

Littlechild said that contracting out to private interests is not the answer.

The best solution is to maintain EMS as a publicly-held interest, he said. There is no guarantee that we could keep response times down if we move to the Regional Health Authority, and definitely no guarantee if the service ends up in private hands.

The current public paramedics represent the best emergency service on the road, he added. Littlechild would have preferred councilors vote the motion down, but said that the union will step up its fight to make its case.

We prefer the City of Edmonton remain the operator and provider of emergency response services, he said.


For more information:
Randy Littlechild, President, Local 3197, (office) 780-455-3197, (cell) 780-718-1078