Yvonne Jones, Opposition Critic for Health and Community Services and MHA
for the District of Cartwright-LíAnse Au Clair, is concerned that government
has not assigned ambulatory care service in the St. Johnís area as a
priority and, as such, the service remains well below the Canadian standard.
Paramedics in the Eastern Health Authority region have engaged in
demonstrations during the past few days to highlight their concerns to
government. They are seeking additional funding and clarification to deal
with human resources shortages, as well as the low number of ambulance units
that currently service the area. According to statistics, one ambulance
services 53,000 people in St. Johnís; whereas, in the three cities of
Halifax, Sudbury and Saint John, New Brunswick, the average is one ambulance
per 22,000 people.
"This is not acceptable by any standard and government has failed to be
proactive on this issue," Jones said. "These concerns have been present for
some time before this public demonstration. Government had an opportunity in
the budget, and with its surplus, to tackle this issue before it reached
this critical stage."
Jones pointed out that the $250,000 allocated in the budget for dispatch
services has to be allocated between four boards, with Eastern Health
receiving only a portion of this limited funding. Furthermore, this board is
expected to take on all air ambulance services across the province on a
permanent basis, which will intensify their funding shortfall.
"The minister says there is $60 Million for increased utilization costs,
but again, this is divided between four authorities. Boards are not yet
aware of their share of the pie, nor what portion will be designated or
discretionary funding. How can they be expected to move forward and with any
"This matter is not only about the stressful workloads of paramedics, but
about compromised patient safety. For a government that claims to be making
the right choices and deems health care a priority, this issue either got
overlooked or is not viewed as important. Either way, governmentís inaction
in this area has ensured that another part of our health care system in this
province is dragging behind the rest of Canada."