The Government of Saskatchewan has announced that an increase of $8.8 million annual funding in the 2023-2024 provincial budget will go to supporting improvements for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in 31 Saskatchewan communities.
According to the province, the money will help fund additional rural and remote ground ambulance staff, expand community paramedicine, address wage parity issues, and provide more operational funding for contracted EMS operators and communication upgrades.
Rural and Remote Health Minister Everett Hindley said this year’s investment is part of a multi-year commitment by the Saskatchewan government to stabilize emergency services and modernize the system to “improve overall response times, patient care and patient flow through the system as well as addressing offload delays.”
“EMS providers in Saskatchewan communities are on the frontlines of patient care,” Hindley said. “And our government is committed to supporting this critical priority area with funding for additional paramedics, ambulances and other essential resources.”
The funding increase of $8.8 million includes over $3.5 million to support the addition of 33 full time equivalent (FTE) positions in 27 Saskatchewan communities, including Nipawin, North Battleford and Prince Albert.
A $739,000 increase will be used to expand the community paramedicine program within five rural and northern Saskatchewan communities, further enhancing the available community supports.
This funding includes an additional 3.75 FTE community paramedicine positions that will be distributed across a number of ground ambulance services in the province, including the communities of La Ronge, Beauval, Buffalo Narrows, Estevan and Weyburn.
As part of the 2023-2024 incremental investment, Parkland Ambulance will staff two additional ambulances for 12 hours a day and 12 hours on call, according to the EMS Stabilization Backgrounder.
“We are excited to be receiving funding under the government enhancements,” said Lyle Karasiuk with Parkland Ambulance. “It is welcomed to support the ever-increasing needs of our service. Thank you to Government of Saskatchewan for this funding to all EMS services in the province.”
Saskatchewan Health Authority Vice-President of Provincial Clinical and Support Services John Ash said the additional funding provided by the Government of Saskatchewan is another positive step to advancing vital Emergency Medical Services throughout the province.
“Our EMS staff will be better supported and equipped to provide the best possible care to the people of Saskatchewan,” stated Ash. “Patients, especially those in rural areas, will have a more stabilized EMS service and quicker access to our health-care teams.”
Contracted EMS providers across the province will receive a $2.6 million increase in wage parity funding to assist with recruitment and retention measures by ensuring wages remain competitive.
“Paramedic Services Chiefs of Saskatchewan is pleased with the announcement in the provincial budget,” said Paramedic Services Chiefs of Saskatchewan President Steven Skoworodko. “The investment of $8.8 million dollars is a strong commitment to addressing ongoing crucial needs of ambulance services and paramedics in the province. We look forward to ongoing dialogue with the Ministry of Health as well as the SHA to ensure the best patient care is brought to the residents of Saskatchewan.”
Other key investments include $866,000 to support a two per cent grant increase for contracted ambulance operators across the province to mitigate rising operational pressures and over $1 million to support EMS communications equipment and technology upgrades.