The Town & MD Make Up AHS Funding Shortfall
The Town & Municipal District of Bonnyville have agreed to fund the Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority (BRFA) with $187,000 to make up unfunded staffing costs from Alberta Heallth Services; specifically for BFRA administration and management for the 2016 fiscal year. The Town & MD will split the cost, equally, $93,500 each, and will continue to work together to recuperate the money from AHS.
Assistant Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), for the Town of Bonnyville, Bill Rogers, explains, “Mayor (Gene) Sobolewski and Reeve (Ed) Rondeau, in conjunction with CAO Mark Power (Town) and CAO Chris Cambridge (MD) and Fire Chief Brian McEvoy, have been having extensive meetings with AHS with regard to this matter and we are actively pursuing recovery of these funds from the Provincial Government.”
Mayor of Bonnyville Gene Sobolewski explains discussions on this matter was directed by AHS in February of 2016, “we have arrived at the point where surpluses are gone and we need to make a decision.” The Town & MD have been making good on AHS funding shortfalls for years, Mayor Sobolewski explains that earlier in the year, both Councils decided to no longer fund the shortfalls and that it was time to make the Province better aware if the situation and to find a new way to resolve the issue; rather than to just continue paying the bills. With that being said, there are still costs that need to be covered so there won’t be a lag in services, “what we want to do is keep going until the end of the year and then essentially make sure that we provide enough time for the process to finish off and reconcile.”
Although neighbouring municipalities that use the ambulance service, such as Glendon, Kehewin and summer villages are not contributing to the shortfall; the cost of the service is billed out to the patients, when used; however, whether or not it’s collected is a problem. “It is an issue we brought up with AHS,” explains Mayor Sobolewski, “they projected to us that we were supposed collect $181,000 in direct billing. We actually invoiced $141,000 and we actually collected approximately $80 or 90,000.”
“There was a shortfall in 2012, there was a shortfall in 2013 and that shortfall has caught up,” Mayor Sobolewski explains it’s been years of under funding from the Provincial Government that has snowballed into the current situation. “We want to make sure that we cover them, so that the service continues, but we’re [hopefully] going to get paid back.”
The Town & MD will continue to work with AHS and the Provincial Government to recover the funds. “I have to say, with all honesty, that the meeting we had with the new president of AHS ( Dr. Verna Yiu) was so refreshing. There was so many issues that she needed to be made aware of, that don’t necessarily come up the ranks, and because of that a brand new dialogue [was brought] forward in this region. It’s looking positive, but we still need to make we cover our monetary [position].”