B.C.’s Annual Emergency Health Service Budget Sits at $559.12 Million A Year
By Dami Igbinyemi
The national response time goal for paramedics in Canada is 8 minutes 59 seconds for the more serious emergencies. Before 2017, the province of British Columbia only met that goal 30% of the time due to the lack of resources and support. The province of BC is working on strengthening the ambulance system to ensure faster response time, better workspace for paramedics and dispatchers, plus new leadership. Since then, the BC Emergency Health Services annual budget has increased by 32% going from $424.25 million to $559.12 million a year. Between 2017 and 2019, B.C. added 115 new paramedic spots to improve direct patient care, improve service and response time, and modernize dispatch operations. Since January 2021, 271 more paramedics have been hired.
Yesterday Adrian Dix, Minister of Health revealed that she would be reassembling the BC Emergency Health Services board of directors to focus solely on ambulance services. She appointed Jim Chu to lead the board as well as Leanne Heppell for chief ambulance officer on an interim basis. Jim Chu is a retired police officer who served for 36 years in the Vancouver Police Department, including eight years as chief constable. Leanne Heppell is a trained clinical nurse specialist, appointed to the role of the chief operating officer, acute care and chief of professional practice and nursing at Providence Health Care in April 2015.
“When we call for help, we need to know help is on the way, and that it will arrive quickly,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Immediate action on operations, as well as stronger leadership and increased investment at BC Emergency Health Services, will deliver a more effective ambulance service for patients and families who depend on it. Better support for paramedics and dispatchers will help them do the vital work we count on every day.”
The province is providing funding for 85 new full-time paramedics, 30 full-time dispatchers, 20 new ambulances, and the renovation of 22 rural ambulance stations to 24/7 ALPHA stations. The province is also looking to add more staff to the emergency department to help with patient care. The new board chair alongside the chief ambulance officer and the BC Emergency Health Service Board will be working in collaboration to come up with new approaches to take more action in 2022-23 and beyond.