Prince Albert ambulance service provider welcomes provincial fuel subsidy

Photo courtesy of the Parkland Ambulance website.

In recognition of rising fuel costs and increasing financial pressures for emergency medical services, the Government of Saskatchewan will be providing a one-time fuel subsidy of $2.85 million to ambulance operators in the province.

Northern Medical Taxi providers will also be receiving $218,000 in 2022-23 to assist with expenses from traveling long distances to transport patients.

Lyle Karasiuk, Director of Public Affairs for Parkland Ambulance Care Ltd. in Prince Albert, welcomed the additional funding.

“Our service in Prince Albert is like every other business in this community or province. Whether you are selling shoes, cars, TVs or baking bread, higher costs are affecting us all,” he said. “Whether those costs are fuel, wages, supplies, maintenance, or equipment, we are all facing higher costs driven by many factors.”

Karasiuk said Parkland Ambulance has seen a 40 per cent increase in fuel costs due to higher prices at the pumps. Unlike residents, they can’t cut back on lengthy road trips to save money.

“While you or I as a private person might have stayed closer to home this summer versus going on a road trip, ground ambulances services are an essential part of this province and will continue to serve the public no matter when or where we are needed,” he said.

Karasiuk said the Parkland Ambulance team handles around 45 incidents in a 24-hour period, averaging to 2,000 km of driving every day.

“When I started as a paramedic 35 years ago, we might have done 5 calls per day. Now some days our very busy team might do that before breakfast,” he said.

In 2021-22, Saskatchewan ambulance operators responded to more than 171,000 calls for service across the province and traveled well over 13 million kilometers. Northern Medical Taxi provided 2,709 trips for northern residents and travelled almost 1.5 million kilometers, according to the provincial government.

“Our government values the work of our emergency medical services and northern medical taxis across the province,” Rural and Remote Health Minister Everett Hindley said. “Reliable, sustainable EMS and NMT services are a critical component of our Saskatchewan health-care system, particularly in our rural and remote communities. We recognize the impact rising costs have had on our EMS and NMT partners and we are pleased to be able to provide them further assistance.”

“EMS services are essential frontline care providers who are often the first health care provider that patients see in their time of need,” said Steven Skoworodko, President of Paramedic Services Chiefs of Saskatchewan. “This increase of funding will help ambulance services across the province with the ever increasing costs of providing emergency medical care to the residents of Saskatchewan.”

There are 105 ground ambulance services operating in 108 communities across Saskatchewan, made up of a mix of Saskatchewan Health Authority owned and operated, privately owned, non-profit and First Nations owned and operated services.