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Alberta

Provincial report recommends doubling support and making STARS sole air ambulance provider

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Stars Red Deer

Helicopter Emergency Medical Services Report released

A report on Alberta’s helicopter emergency medical services looks at existing services, gaps in coverage, best practices and procedures, and funding models.

Over the coming months, the Government of Alberta will evaluate the report and consult with helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) providers before making any final decisions.

The Helicopter Emergency Medical Services Report has 11 recommendations, with the three main recommendations being:

  • Single provider: Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS) would become the dedicated helicopter emergency medical service provider for the province. STARS would work with other helicopter emergency medical providers to ensure consistent, safe coverage across Alberta. Provincial funding for STARS would rise to 50 per cent of their operating budget (from the current 23 per cent).
  • Legislation: A new air ambulance regulation would establish consistent deployment, operational, clinical and aviation standards.
  • Dispatch integration: The dispatch of STARS would be integrated with other emergency medical services to allow for the best use of all services to achieve the most efficient response.

“Thank you to the HEMS providers and community leaders who provided their perspective on the delivery of helicopter emergency medical services in Alberta. We all agree that in life-threatening situations, Albertans need to know that they can get the help they need – no matter where they are. We will be reviewing the report further and consulting with HEMS providers in the coming months to determine next steps.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

Quick facts

  • Helicopter emergency medical services are essential when ground ambulances cannot reach Albertans during a medical emergency or they are unable to reach them in a safe and timely manner.
  • Alberta Health Services is responsible for the delivery of emergency medical services across Alberta, including ground, fixed-wing and helicopter ambulances.
  • Currently, Alberta Health Services provides about $8.4 million per year to helicopter emergency medical services funding.
  • Approximately 1,450 helicopter flights take place each year; 7,300 are flown using fixed-wing aircraft.
  • The three main helicopter service providers that support emergency medical services are:
    • STARS (Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service)
      • Bases are located in Calgary, Edmonton and Grande Prairie.
      • In 2019-20, STARS flew 1,255 missions (about 92.6 per cent of all missions).
      • STARS covers 90 per cent of Alberta’s rural and remote population without refuelling from its current base locations.
      • STARS is the only provider that delivers critical care level service on 24-7 dedicated helicopters with advanced life-support equipment.
    • HALO (Helicopter Air Lift Operation)
      • Based in Medicine Hat, it serves southeast Alberta.
      • In 2019-20, HALO flew 38 missions (about 2.8 per cent of all missions).
    • HERO (Helicopter Emergency Response Organization)
      • Based in Fort McMurray, it serves northeast Alberta.
      • In 2019-20, HERO flew 62 missions (about 4.6 per cent of all missions).
  • Currently, there are no regulations guiding the standards of air ambulance medical services in Alberta.

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

Smith won’t seek early vote if she wins UCP leadership, becomes next Alberta premier

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United Conservative Party leadership candidate Danielle Smith says if she wins this week’s vote and becomes the next Alberta premier, she would not call an early election to seek a broad mandate on her policy ideas.

Smith, the perceived front-runner in the race, says the public tends to punish leaders who call an early election.

She says she would wait until the next scheduled election in May 2023, but believes she has a mandate now to proceed with her plans.

Smith has said she would immediately pass an Alberta sovereignty act, which would allow the province to ignore federal laws and court rulings deemed not in its interest.

Legal experts, some of Smith’s leadership rivals and Premier Jason Kenney have labelled the act not only illegal but a recipe for constitutional and economic chaos.

Smith has also talked about revamping the health system by using health spending accounts and firing the board of Alberta Health Services, which oversees the front-line delivery of care.

Today is the last day for advance voting, as seven candidates dig in for the final campaign push before UCP members select a new leader to replace Kenney on Thursday.

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Alberta

Alberta commits $20.8 million over the next four years to fight human trafficking

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By Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton

The Alberta government is providing $20.8 million over the next four years to implement recommendations from a star-led task force on human trafficking.

Country singer Paul Brandt, chair of the Alberta Human Trafficking Task Force, personally thanked Premier Jason Kenney during the funding announcement Sunday at Edmonton International Airport for his willingness to prioritize the issue, and for putting faith in Brandt to lead the group.

“Premier Kenney’s longtime personal dedication and commitment to the issue of human trafficking is authentic and is admirable,” Brandt said.

“He’s the only political leader I’ve met in my 17 years of advocating for trafficking victims and survivors who took the time and initiative to personally write a plan to address this horrific crime.”

The money will establish an office to combat trafficking as well as a centre of excellence for research and data collection — recommendations the government accepted when the task force presented its report in March.

Justice Minister Tyler Shandro said the goal is to launch the office by next summer.

Other task force recommendations that will be supported include a new grant for community projects and Indigenous-led and culturally appropriate services. Civilian positions that will focus on supporting victims and survivors throughout human trafficking investigations will also be funded.

“Human trafficking is far more prevalent — way more common — than the stats would suggest because it’s a hidden crime,” Kenney said at the announcement.

“It festers in the dark. There are victims who face fear, shame and self-doubt and some who will never report what they’ve gone through.”

The task force was appointed in May 2020 and engaged with nearly 100 experts and survivors of trafficking to provide guidance on how to best implement the government’s action plan to fight human trafficking.

The government has said human trafficking includes sexual exploitation, forced labour trafficking and trafficking in human organs or tissues.

Kenney, who will be replaced as premier when his United Conservative Party selects a new leader on Thursday, noted he started fighting human trafficking over 20 years ago when he was an MP and joined a group of international parliamentarians on a coalition to fight the practice.

Later as Canada’s immigration minister, he said he took steps to make it easier for human trafficking victims who had migrated to Canada to obtain safety and protection.

In winter 2019, he said he committed the UCP to a nine-point action plan to combat human trafficking, which led to the Protecting Survivors of Human Trafficking Act, which took effect in May 2020.

Brandt said it was exciting to be part of the funding commitment at the airport, where he said he stood in 2019 for a partnership with the facility and other groups in the Edmonton region to fight trafficking, which he called “modern day slavery.”

“It has been our dream that special focus and permanent funding would one day become a reality. Today is that day,” Brandt said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2022.

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