Thursday , 23 September 2021

County of St. Paul wants regional support for STARS

County of St. Paul council has tabled their discussion on STARS Air Ambulance in order to reach out to the surrounding municipalities for more information about how others in the Lakeland are supporting the service.

Glenda Farnden made a presentation to council at the Feb. 9 meeting via Zoom.

In the presentation, Farnden reported there were 11 critical inter-facility transfers from Elk Point Hospital and 29 from St. Paul Hospital in 2020. They also responded to scenes near Ashmont, Elk Point, Frog Lake, Goodfish Lake, and St. Paul for a total of 53 missions in the St. Paul region in 2020.

“On an annual average over this past five years, the County of St. Paul would see approximately 36 missions per year, which has a service value to your residents in the area of over $260,000 per year,” said Farnden.

Farnden asked the County of St. Paul to commit to a two-year pledge of $2 per capita funding for STARS Air Ambulance, noting the County has been a supporter since 2015. In the preliminary budget for 2021, the County planned for $1 per capita or $6,468.

Div. 1 Coun. Darrell Younghans asked Farnden if there had been any trends in support from other municipalities in the province. According to Farnden, that support has been growing in towns and villages around the province.

“Currently, the municipal area of support is the one area for STARS that the support has remained steadfast,” said Farnden.

She said a number of municipalities have been moving their support from an annual or bi-annual pledge “whether it’s a specific dollar value or a per capita amount” to a standing motion which is always included in their budget.

“To give you an idea, we are generating approximately $2 million per year from municipal support and that’s very significant,” said Farnden.

According to Farnden’s presentation and the STARS website, in Alberta 80 per cent of STARS funding comes from fundraising, while 20 per cent comes from the provincial government. In Saskatchewan, the province contributes 50 per cent of their funding, and in Manitoba 85 per cent. She said their fundraising efforts last year were especially hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Div. 2 Coun. Kevin Wirsta asked if the cities were included in the calculation of municipal support. According to Farnden, they do work with the larger urban areas but “they maybe don’t see STARS in the same light as rural municipalities do as well as towns and villages.”

She noted there have been some rural municipalities who have worked to get every town and village in their regions on board as partners, an idea which was received positively by the County of St. Paul.

“I wouldn’t mind if we actually integrated a synergy within our towns and villages. And maybe come up as a whole that we know everybody supporting this program,” said Wirsta.

Younghans expressed interest in what municipalities within and sharing borders with the County of St. Paul were contributing to STARS.

The M.D. of Bonnyville and the City of Cold Lake both pledged $10,000 to STARS in 2021.

The final decision on funding from the County of St. Paul was deferred to final budget in order to allow administration to gather more information about STARS funding in the surrounding municipalities.

About Meredith Kerr

Meredith Kerr moved to St. Paul for a career in journalism and morning radio in 2014 expecting to stay for six months to a year. Since then, she has put down roots in the form of a husband, a mortgage, two babies, and a poorly behaved dog. She continues to work as a reporter until such time as she finishes her book and becomes fabulously wealthy from the royalties. Meredith also serves as a member at large on the St. Paul Library Board and volunteers as a Beaver leader for the 1st St. Paul Scout Group.