The City of Cold Lake voted to approve $40,000 in funding for the Cold Lake Ambulance Society (CLAS). Mayor of Cold Lake, Craig Copeland says it’s one of the City’s top priorities to ensure the quality of service, provided by the ambulance for the residents of Cold Lake, does not drop due to lack of funding.
The money will be used to help build reserves that have been depleting over the years due to inadequate funding from the Provincial Government, explains Mayor Copeland. “They’re struggling to put money away for an ambulance replacement program,” the Ambulance Society has approached other partners, the Municipal District (MD) of Bonnyville and Hearts for Healthcare, to match the $40,000. The MD has denied the funding and Hearts for Healthcare was to make a decision, on the funding, at their March 9th meeting; however the meeting was rescheduled for next month.
CLAS hopes to build reserves so if vital equipment needs repairs or replacements there will be funds to purchase in a timely manner; as well as, when the ambulance’s life is up there will be funding in place to purchase a new one. CLAS is funded through Alberta Health Services (AHS), however, the funding doesn’t cover these costs, explains Copeland, “we’re concerned that AHS is not funding CLAS adequately, so our Council has taken it upon ourselves.”
Alberta Health Services needs to step up and better support Cold Lake Ambulance Society. – Craig Copeland Mayor of Cold Lake
“When AHS took over the ambulance service, they promised the level of service would not go down in Cold Lake and it has. By the fact that at times an ambulance isn’t even in our city,” Mayor Copeland has spoken out on incidences where the city is left without an ambulance for an extended period of time, referred to as “Code Red”, on many occasions. The Mayor has long advocated better service and more funding; while recognizing the quality job the CLAS does. In December, Mayor Copeland stated he believed the funding would be a sure thing from Council and finding answers and solutions to the problems with the ambulance service in Cold Lake was one of the Council’s top priorities.
“Council’s been very supportive of Cold Lake Ambulance service over the years. CLAS has been around forever, I’ve been on Council since ’04, City Council all those years has always been dedicated to CLAS. They’re a dedicated group. Our Council is not prepared to allow a private contractor to come in and take over that service. We’re here to protect CLAS as much as we can,” states the Mayor. In cases where an ambulance service cannot be managed by the municipalities; due to lack of funding or resources, the service can be contracted out to a private company, which is the case in Elk Point with Prairie EMS. Mayor Copeland has spoken out on avoiding that scenario and believes it would lessen the quality of service provided to the residents.
It goes back to the second ambulance [in Cold Lake], right now it’s operating 24 hours a day as an ambulance, but AHS only funds it as a flex car. Every day that ambulance isn’t funded properly [CLAS is losing money]. We keep playing the same song-and-dance, Cold Lake Council wants the second car to be 24 hours a day, because we don’t want to reduce the quality and level of care. – Craig Copeland Mayor of Cold Lake