Twenty-five new, full-time rural paramedic positions in the northern and southern health regions will be filled later this year as part of the Manitoba government’s continuing efforts to strengthen the emergency medical services (EMS) system and provide a more consistent level of care throughout the province, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen said today.
“Health care begins the moment paramedics arrive at your door,” said Friesen. “Hiring more rural and northern paramedics will improve the quality and consistency of care Manitobans receive while reducing the health system’s reliance on on-call staff.”
Thirty-five additional full-time equivalent (FTE) positions were previously announced in Budget 2019. Friesen said today that 13 of those positions will be posted and strategically spread out in the Northern Regional Health Authority, while another 12 will be placed in Southern Health-Sante Sud. The remaining 10 new positions have been allocated to the Prairie Mountain Health region and were announced last week.
These new positions will support the 24-7 operation of EMS stations and be available to enhance the quality of care.
“Manitobans know the quickest way to access professional, life-saving care when experiencing medical distress is by calling for an ambulance,” said Helen Clark, chief operating officer, emergency response services, Shared Health. “Investing in additional paramedic positions across the province enables Shared Health to hire more professional, career paramedics, enhancing our ability to provide Manitobans with reliable, high-quality care as we respond to, treat and transport patients.”
Friesen said these investments build on the government’s commitment to enact recommendations made in the 2013 EMS System Review which, when complete, will ensure response time targets are achieved and a sustainable EMS model is built that supports paramedics being able to work to their full scope of practice.
The overarching provincial standard for emergency medical response is to respond within 30 minutes 90 per cent of the time to 90 per cent of the population. In 2017-18, 94.11 per cent of EMS calls in rural and northern Manitoba (outside the city of Winnipeg) were responded to within the provincial response time standard, with 58.24 per cent within nine minutes, 15.98 per cent within 15 minutes and 19.89 per cent within 30 minutes.
Manitoba uses a globally recognized, flexible deployment model to shift EMS resources as they are required throughout a region, ensuring timely responses to emergency situations across rural Manitoba.
“Knowing that paramedics are on the way helps people feel supported during an emergency,” said Jane Curtis, chief executive officer, Southern Health-Santé Sud. “The addition of paramedics in Southern Health-Santé Sud will greatly benefit the dedicated teams of emergency response staff working in our region, as well as their capacity for providing timely, life-saving care when people need it most.”
“The announcement of these additional paramedic positions in the Northern Health Region will provide the EMS resources required to ensure our residents receive accessible health care,” said Helga Bryant, chief executive officer, Northern Health Region. “We welcome this latest investment into the quality of care for our patients.”
Since 2016, Manitoba has supported the paramedic profession in a number of ways, including:
• increasing EMS funding by $12.1 million to allow for the creation of 149.2 FTE paramedic positions;
• giving the paramedic profession the right to self-regulate; and
• purchasing 65 new ambulances, which will represent a refresh of approximately one-third of the province’s overall fleet when delivered later this year.
The Manitoba government has also reduced ambulance fees in the past three years by approximately 50 per cent to $250, making emergency care more affordable and accessible for residents throughout the province.