HSAA opposes for-profit EMS Inter-Facility Transfer Services

EDMONTON – The government is again jeopardizing Albertans’ health care by handing over public services over to private, for-profit companies. Today, the government announced plans to privatize EMS Inter-Facility Transfer Services (IFT). This move will put patient safety at risk, exacerbate the staffing crisis and divert money from patient care to corporate profits.

“It was only a few months ago that this government corrected its failed approach to for-profit health care after a complete failure to move community laboratory services to DynaLIFE. Today, they are setting Albertans up to face the same problems with EMS,” said Mike Parker, President of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta.

The government has announced that Guardian Ambulance, a division of Medavie Health Services West, will take over IFT in Calgary and Associated Ambulance and Services will take over IFT in Edmonton.

“The tragic lesson Albertans learned from the failure of DynaLIFE labs was that the promises of cost savings and improved efficiencies from corporate health care are nothing but a sham to undermine the public health-care system,” continued Parker. “For-profit health care reduces the quality and availability of health care as corners are cut in the name of profit, leaving Albertans to pay the price with their health.”

The government claims this will help provide more resources to EMS, but evidence indicates that it will only worsen the health-care staffing crisis.

A report from the New Brunswick Auditor General and another from the National Union of Public and General Employees found severe issues with the quality of care and fiscal management when Medavie took control of EMS in New Brunswick.

The Auditor General of New Brunswick’s 2020 report reveals the detrimental effects of for-profit EMS delivery. It led to a paramedic shortage and resulted in Medavie receiving $8 million more in revenue than it should have. The contract with Medavie allowed ‘excessive use’ of staffing exemptions, leading to an ‘overstatement of response time performance.’

“Not only is this government failing to learn from its own mistakes with for-profit health care in labs, but it is also choosing not to learn from others’ mistakes with the exact company they are providing an IFT contract to,” concluded Parker. “I am calling on this government to put the health of Albertans ahead of profits and follow through on their commitments to address the health-care staffing crisis by making all of EMS publicly funded and publicly delivered.”

Media Inquiries:
Myles Curry, Director, Communications and Engagement
587-991-9445 | MylesC@hsaa.ca