Three ambulances have been cut from Kelowna’s fleet, despite an increasing need for emergency services.
BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) announced that they will be reducing the number of ambulances in Kelowna by 30 per-cent, bringing the number of available vehicles down to seven.
“Kelowna residents could soon be seeing longer response times for emergency health services,” said the Union of Ambulance Paramedics in B.C.
In April 2020, the provincial government added air and ground ambulances to improve access to health services for rural and Indigenous communities. On Oct. 31, 2022, the BCEHS decided not to renew the contracts.
This is a big issue for Troy Clifford the provincial president of the Ambulance Paramedics of BC.
He explained that the decision will not only impact residents, but also those living in surrounding communities such as Lake Country, West Kelowna and Peachland.
“We are fully aware of the growing needs and calls in Kelowna and demand analysis is underway in Kelowna and other metro and urban centres, to determine the resources needed to meet current demands,” said Cindy Leong a spokesperson for BC Emergency Health Services.
In addition to a reduction in ambulances, Clifford said the reduced number of permanent paramedic positions has affected Kelowna’s Ambulance Paramedics of B.C.’s ability to recruit staff.
“That’s hurting our staffing stability, it’s hurting our ability to fill ambulances. Having the instabilities of these jobs doesn’t help us recruit. Full-time jobs we know people will work…Those ambulances need to come back as soon as possible, in some format and ultimately they need to be added as permanent resources,” said Clifford.