Funding and Support for Rural Emergency Services

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Funding and Support for Rural Emergency Services

Res #: 17-20A
Number: 17
Year: 2020
Midterm: No
Expired: No
Responses Received: Yes
Departments: Saskatchewan Health

WHEREAS with temporary hospital closures, as well as multiple hospitals and urgent care facilities on bypass in the rural communities, the need for exceptional ambulance facilities is crucial;

WHEREAS rural emergency medical services are struggling to educate, attract and retain emergency medical responder and first responder personnel;

WHEREAS emergency medical responder and primary care paramedic training is not readily available in the rural settings;

WHEREAS on-call wages for emergency medical responder personnel is less than half of minimum wage and time spent on-call time does not count towards any benefits for emergency medical services personnel;

BE IT RESOLVED that SARM lobby the provincial government to provide easier access for training opportunities for those willing to take the emergency medical responders or primary care paramedic course;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that SARM lobby the provincial government to have better on-call wages and benefits to help people of the communities have a better opportunity to get involved, in turn helping with staffing shortages.

Response From The Ministry of Health:

April 29, 2020

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) endeavors to provide patients with exceptional emergency medical services (EMS), despite the challenges of geographic expanse in Saskatchewan.

The Ministry of Health provides global funding to the SHA for the delivery of programs and services including the provision of ground ambulance services throughout the province. Through this funding, the SHA is responsible for evaluating and determining the healthcare needs and resources required in all of its communities. As patients' needs continue to change across the province, it is important for the SHA to be able to determine the services that are needed in the communities.

Maintaining full-time or part-time EMS staff in communities with low call volumes can be challenging. We are aware that the SHA continues to actively recruit staff for its ambulance services throughout the province, as well as provide emergency medical responder and medical first responder training for those individuals interested in working for the SHA.

Along with its regular classes in Regina and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Polytechnic continues to work with the Regional Colleges to offer additional Primary Care Paramedic (PCP) training opportunities in different locations throughout the province. We understand that there are PCP programs being offered within the communities of Redvers and Melville and that further evaluation is being done, between Saskatchewan Polytechnic and the Regional Colleges, on other potential locations within the province.

In regards to the request for better EMS on-call wages and benefits, the Ministry of Health does not become involved in the collective bargaining process. As you may be aware, employees' wages and benefits are determined at the bargaining table between the respective unions and employer. Employers and unions have been asked to work together to find solutions to achieve collective bargaining agreements. We respect the collective bargaining process that determines salary and benefits for employees.

It is the role of the Executive Director, Provincial Programs Community Care within the SHA to assist communities with questions or concerns, and ensure that they are informed about ambulance services provided within the province. If you have not done so already, I would encourage you to direct your concerns to Rod Mackenzie by calling 306-682-8173 or by emailing rod.mackenzie@saskhealthauthority.ca.

Dave Morhart - Director of Cancer Services and EMS