The Government of Alberta provided an update on the work being done to improve Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in the province this morning (January 16, 2023).  

Alberta Health Minister, Jason Copping says Alberta’s Government will be accepting all recommendations made by the Alberta Emergency Medical Services Provincial Advisory Committee (AEPAC) that was formed in May of 2022.  

“Today, I'm here to share a number of ways we're moving ahead with implementing these actions already. We're increasing the number of ambulances in our busiest centers, and we're putting a new policy in place to get paramedics out of hospital waiting rooms so they can respond to the next 911 call. Edmonton and Calgary will get twenty additional ambulances during the peak hours in the coming months—that's on top of the 19 ambulances we've already added this year in both cities,” explained Copping.  

These changes are in addition to the non-emergency transfer program initiated in late December of 2022.  

The new actions being implemented include:  

  • adding 20 additional ambulances during peak hours — expected to start rolling out in the spring in Calgary and Edmonton 

  • fast-tracking ambulance transfers at emergency departments by moving less urgent patients to hospital waiting areas, based on new provincial guidelines that are now in place 

  • freeing up paramedics by contracting appropriately trained resources for non-emergency transfers between facilities in Edmonton and Calgary 

  • empowering paramedics to assess a patient’s condition on scene and decide whether they need to be taken to an ER by ambulance. 

Additionally, an emergency dispatch review was conducted by PricewatershouseCoopers and it was determined that Alberta’s central dispatch model follows world-leading practices and design. The report determined that increased demands on EMS services are the leading driver behind longer wait times which have at times put pressures on the availability of ambulances. However, the report also outlined 45 recommendations for opportunities for improvement that the Provincial Government has accepted.