Premier Christy Clark announced the new ambulances in September.

Still waiting for new ambulances in Maple Ridge

B.C. paramedics growing frustrated with delay.

Maple Ridge is still waiting for the ambulance.

The union representing paramedics in B.C. is accusing the province of dragging its feet in providing more ambulance service in Maple Ridge.

On Sept. 15, Premier Christy Clark was at Ridge Meadows Hospital to announce the Maple Ridge ambulance station would get a third ambulance, and another will be stationed in Coquitlam.

Bronwyn Barter, president of the Ambulance Paramedics of B.C., CUPE 873, said it has been six weeks, and the union still has not been told whether the vehicles will be alpha cars – those which are always on duty.

One ambulance requires nine paramedics to keep it staffed 24/7.

She said the government could have had the new vans on the road immediately using existing casual, part-time staff.

Last Wednesday, a Tweet from the Paramedics of B.C., which Barter said was written by a regional vice-president, got a response from the health minister.

“Whatever happened to the two additional ambulances announced by the Liberal government a month ago for the Tri-Cities and Maple Ridge? Crickets … Nothing,” read the Tweet.

Health Minister Terry Lake responded with a Tweet of his own: “Recruitment underway but will get on it today.”

The new ambulances topped up an increase in resources from earlier in 2016. In February, the province announced it was adding eight new ambulances and hiring 34 paramedics in the Lower Mainland – but not in Maple Ridge, at the time.

Barter said Lower Mainland paramedics are frustrated by the delay.

“They’re outraged. They’re being worked non-stop on their shifts, they don’t get breaks, and they show up late for calls and people are upset.”

She said the epidemic of opioid overdoses has exacerbated the problem, adding more calls “on top of a maxed-out system.”

Barter said not all of the new vehicles added earlier this year are alpha cars, so the government is not making the kind of investment needed to fix the system.

“It’s a drop in the bucket, compared to all of the resources we need,” she said.

The government’s own report said the B.C. Ambulance Service requires 27 additional alpha cars in Vancouver and Victoria to meet demand.

“It’s great that you have two new ambulances, but you’ll never see them if they’re short in other cities – until they get all of those resources in place, you won’t see them.

“Those ambulances aren’t going to stay in Maple Ridge and Coquitlam.”

Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton said the two new ambulances are stocked and ready to be deployed for Maple Ridge and the Tri-Cities area.

They will be staffed as alpha cars and the hiring process is currently underway, he added.

The ambulances will be staffed and responding to calls in November, Dalton said.

“That was my understanding from the beginning. It wasn’t going to happen the next day.”

He said the Liberal government has made a significant increase in both paramedics and ambulances this year, that will make a difference.

The paramedics union, Dalton added, has another agenda in its complaints about the system.

“You need to recognize the source – they are always going to advocate for more jobs.”

Just Posted

Searchers to return to avalanche-prone peak to look for Surrey snowshoer

North Shore Rescue, Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog teams and personnel will be on Mt. Seymour

Crashes pile up as snow blankets Surrey

Up to 10 centimetres of snow is in the forecast

Delta to ban shark fin products

The bylaw comes after several false starts and a year of lobbying by a local shark advocate

How much does your city spend per person on snow removal?

Black Press Media compares 2018 ice and snow removal budgets of various Lower Mainland communities

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

‘Riya was a dreamer’: Mother of slain 11-year-old Ontario girl heartbroken

Her father, Roopesh Rajkumar, 41, was arrested some 130 kilometres away

Do you live with your partner? More and more Canadians don’t

Statistics Canada shows fewer couples live together than did a decade ago

B.C. child killer denied mandatory outings from psychiatric hospital

The B.C. Review Board decision kept things status quo for Allan Schoenborn

5 to start your day

The B.C. government released it’s 2019 budget, we break down snow removal per capita and more

Market volatility, mortgages loom over upcoming earnings of Canada’s big banks

Central bank interest hikes have padded the banks’ net interest margins

Hearings into SNC-Lavalin affair start today, but not with Wilson-Raybould

She has repeatedly cited solicitor-client privilege to refuse all comment

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

B.C. pot giant Tilray to acquire hemp food company Manitoba Harvest for up to $419 million

Tilray will pay $150 million in cash and $127.5 million in stock.

Tears, flowers at impromptu memorial for Syrian children killed in Halifax fire

The family had only lived in the Quartz Drive home for a few months

Most Read