News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

June 29, 2017

Province Invests in Paramedic Staffing Positions in Rural Manitoba, Commits to Implementation of 2013 Provincial EMS Review

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Locating Resources Where They Match Demand for Service will Ensure Timely Access to Care for All Manitobans: Goertzen

BRANDON—The Manitoba government is making improvements to the province’s rural emergency medical services (EMS) including an investment of more than $1.7 million for enhanced paramedic staffing across three regional health authorities, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced here today. 

“This investment will expand our already strong provincial network of paramedic dispatch and response, reducing reliance on on-call and call-back staff,” said Goertzen.  “Our reliance on these highly skilled professionals has increased significantly as rural emergency departments were closed over the past decade.  Enhanced staff resources will ensure Manitobans are able to access health-care services when they need them across the province.”

Investments in 24-7 paramedic staffing and reduced reliance on on-call and call-back staff were recommendations contained in the 2013 Provincial EMS Reviewreport by Reg Toews, a recognized leader in the health-care system. 

The new 29.2 full-time equivalent, primary care paramedic positions will be located in Arborg, Ashern, Glenboro, Waterhen, Gladstone/Kinosota, Carman, and Morris.  Four positions have already been filled with highly skilled candidates while hiring for the remaining positions will begin immediately, the minister said. 

In rural Manitoba, many emergency departments and acute care services have been closed, or are shared between neighbouring communities because resources are stretched too thinly across the province, Goertzen noted. 

The 2013 review of Manitoba’s emergency medical services system recommended the development of more integrated, responsive, reliable and sustainable services, but implementation efforts stalled as a result of the complex nature of the health-care system.  The creation of Shared Health Services Manitoba, announced yesterday, will allow EMS services, including dispatch outside Winnipeg, to be operated centrally, Goertzen said. 

The review also recommended computer modeling and predictive deployment be used in a 74-station EMS system (a net reduction of 18 low call-volume EMS stations) to achieve the approved response time standard of no more than 30 minutes for 90 per cent of the population, 90 per cent of the time. 

During a demonstration at the Medical Transportation Coordination Centre (MTCC), Goertzen noted that in 2015-16 more than 98 per cent of EMS calls in rural and northern Manitoba (not including the City of Winnipeg) are responded to within the provincial response time standard, with 20.38 per cent responded to within 30 minutes, 15.66 per cent responded to within 15 minutes and 62.14 per cent within nine minutes.  The MTCC uses a globally recognized flexible deployment model to shift resources as they are required throughout a region, ensuring timely responses to emergency situations throughout rural Manitoba. 

“We continue to support the implementation of the recommendations contained in the 2013 EMS System Review,” said Cameron Ritzer, chairman, Paramedic Association of Manitoba.  “Paramedic services in Manitoba have evolved to the point where we are truly bringing the emergency room to your home when you call 911.  Centralization and robust deployment models supported by evidence from MTCC will ensure that every Manitoba resident receives medical attention when they need it the most.” 

For the first time, Manitoba publicly released a map of the proposed EMS station locations including those recommended for reallocation or restructuring to provide enhanced strategic coverage in locations that allow resources to be better matched with actual service demand.  The minister said five new sites are proposed to be constructed, while station locations located in a number of areas with very low call volumes, those in poor state of repair or those that have seen service discontinued due to a lack of staffing will be closed as new capacity is created. 

As additional investments are made in paramedic staffing over the coming years, remaining and new stations will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week to allow a more rapid response to emergency calls than was possible with a reliance on on-call or call back staff, he added. 

“Paramedics are highly skilled medical professionals who provide a high level of medical care from the moment they reach a patient,” said Goertzen.  “Our government is committed to the implementation of the recommendations of 2013 Provincial EMS Reviewand to ensuring Manitobans are able to access the vital and often lifesaving services of paramedics when and where they are needed most.” 

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