B.C.’s Health Minister has announced $91-million of the province’s health budget is being targeted for emergency health services; decreasing wait times and increasing staffing.
Though money is there, Terry Lake says changes won’t be immediate.
“Well, of course when you’re talking about human resources and training people and gearing up, it will take some time. This is a three-year plan, so by the end of three years, there is essentially a ten percent increase in the funding to B.C. emergency health services.”
Officials in Haida Gwaii have recently told CKNW they were often short ambulance staff in the community.
President of the Ambulance Paramedics and Emergency Dispatchers of B.C., Bronwyn Barter, says a highlight of today’s announcement is funding to create part-time paramedic positions in rural areas.
“It actually moves them into more of a regular part-time job with a schedule, with pay, with benefits which will help with recruitment and retention in rural and remote B.C.”
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Currently rural area paramedics are paid only when called out and are otherwise only a stipend while waiting for a call.
This means additional funding could give stability to those who get a $2 an hour stipend to be on-call.
Linda Lupini with B.C. Emergency Health Services says this targeted money will go a long way to help, not just adding resources like vehicles but also how paramedics respond.
“We are also going to have single responders, the primary response units. We did a lot of that during the opioid crisis but that has worked out very well so we will do more of that as well.”
NDP critic Judy Darcy says she welcomes the funding but notes this funding comes after years of cuts.
“I am sorry it took this long and that it’s just happening just two months before an election because British Columbians needed it long before today.”
Over three years the money will add 20 dispatchers, 60 new staff across the province, and six ambulances in metro Vancouver.
The health minister says it will take time for training before we see staffing increases in the field.