REGINA – Today, Official Opposition Health Critic Vicki Mowat joined the Mayor of the Village of Glenavon Bill Sluser in calling on the provincial government to commit to providing funding to fill ambulance vacancies resulting in service disruptions to communities in Saskatchewan’s Southeast.
“This is another example of how this government has completely sidelined the health and safety of rural residents. Thank God there hasn’t been a fatal accident. It shouldn’t take an avoidable fatality to convince this government to invest in rural healthcare,” said Mowat. “The people of this province expect essential health services like ambulances to be available when they need them the most.”
Since the end of January of this year, Kipling and area have been short a paramedic for their ambulance services due to a maternity leave. The region has been left with limited service, with no ambulances available for two-thirds of the month. Should there be an incident when a local ambulance is not available, often one must be sent from surrounding communities, resulting in wait times of over an hour. Despite Mayor Sluser and council reaching out to local MLA Bonk, Minister Hindley, Minister Merriman and Premier Scott Moe, the position has remained vacant since January.
“The Saskatchewan Health Authority has told me this position has remained vacant for over 5 months because the Ministry won’t fund a permanent full-time position,” said Sluser. “How on earth does it make any sense to pinch pennies on paramedics when people’s lives are at stake. The Sask. Party needs to stop taking Saskatchewan’s rural communities for granted and ensure live-saving care is there when we need it.”
Saskatchewan has one of the most expensive and dysfunctional ambulance systems in the country. Despite undertaking reviews of the ambulance system in 2008 and 2017, no meaningful changes have been made to improve services provided to Saskatchewan people. The Official Opposition is joining the calls from the Village of Glenavon and other rural residents demanding this government immediately:
- Commit to funding to fill gaps in rural ambulance coverage due to staffing shortages.
- Provide current information on what other Saskatchewan communities are also without full-time ambulance coverage.
- Publicly report on ambulance service disruptions the way Emergency Room, Laboratory and X-ray services are reported through SHA Service Alerts, so Saskatchewan residents can make informed choices about how to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.