The Saskatchewan NDP has joined concerned rural residents in calling on the provincial government to fund ambulance vacancies leading to service disruptions in southeast Saskatchewan communities.
Health Critic Vicki Mowat explained during a virtual NDP conference on Thursday shared that the Kipling area has been short a paramedic since January of this year due to someone going on maternity leave. It has resulted in there being limited service with no ambulance available for two-thirds of the month.
Mowat said it should not take an avoidable fatality to convince the Saskatchewan Party government to invest in rural healthcare.
“Nothing has changed in five months. Saskatchewan has one of the most expensive and dysfunctional ambulance systems in the country,” she stated. “While this government has conducted ambulance system reviews, there have been no substantial changes.”
Mowat was joined by Glenavon Mayor Bill Sluser during Thursday’s virtual event. Sluser is one of the residents in the area sounding the alarms on this issue, saying it has created growing wait times for people who rely on this critical service in the region.
He explained how people in his community have to wait at least 30 minutes for an ambulance to arrive to a call. In the Fillmore area, the wait time is 60 to 75 minutes, while the Carlyle area is experiencing wait times of about 90 minutes.
Sluser mentioned how he and members of his council have tried communicating this problem to members of the government including Moosomin MLA StevenBonk, Rural and Remote Health Minister Everett Hindley, Health Minister Paul Merriman and Premier Scott Moe. However nothing has changed since January.
“What I am looking for is a commitment for finances from the government. We need it now,” he added.
Sluser noted the Saskatchewan Health Authority told him it would be “no problem” to fill the vacancy, but he was notified by the SHA at the end of January that they could not find a temporary replacement for the position.
The NDP is also calling on the government to provide current information on what other Saskatchewan communities are also without full-time ambulance coverage and to publicly report on ambulance service disruptions through SHA service alerts.