Kelowna will only have 7 ambulances after BC emergency health services cuts

Three ambulances have been cut from Kelowna’s fleet, despite a growing need for emergency services.

British Columbia Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) announced it would cut the number of ambulances in Kelowna by 30%, bringing the number of available vehicles down to seven.

“Residents of Kelowna may soon see slower response times for emergency health services,” the British Columbia Paramedics Union said.

In April 2020, the provincial government added air and land ambulances to improve access to health services for rural and Indigenous communities. On October 31, 2022, the BCEHS decided not to renew the contracts.

It’s a big deal for Troy Clifford, the provincial chair of BC paramedics.

He explained that the decision will not only impact residents, but also those who live in surrounding communities such as Lake Country, West Kelowna and Peachland.

“We are fully aware of the growing needs and calls in Kelowna and a demand analysis is underway in Kelowna and other metropolitan and urban centers to determine the resources needed to meet current demands,” said Cindy. Leong, spokesperson for BC Emergency Health Services.

In addition to a reduction in the number of ambulances, Clifford said the reduction in the number of permanent paramedic positions has affected the ability of Kelowna paramedics from British Columbia to recruit staff.

“It hurts the stability of our staff, it hurts our ability to fill the ambulances. Having the instabilities of these jobs does not help us recruit. Full-time jobs, we know people will work… These ambulances need to come back as soon as possible, in some form, and ultimately they need to be added as permanent resources,” Clifford said.

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