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Cumberland MLAs frustrated with paramedic schedule breakdowns

Paramedics were able to respond to a collision like this one on South Albion Street in Amherst, but figures released in late January by the union representing Nova Scotia paramedics show that, province-wide, units were half-staffed or out of service 989 times between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2018. File Photo
Paramedics were able to respond to a collision like this one on South Albion Street in Amherst, but figures released in late January by the union representing Nova Scotia paramedics show that, province-wide, units were half-staffed or out of service 989 times between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2018. - Dave Mathieson

HALIFAX, N.S. – On Feb. 5. Progressive Conservative MLAs Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin and Tory Rushton called on the Liberal government to ensure adequate ambulance coverage in the Amherst area.

They said no paramedics were scheduled to cover the Amherst area on the night of Feb. 2, and there was also no coverage in Oxford or Springhill.

“In the past, this would never have been allowed or accepted,” Smith-McCrossin, MLA for Cumberland North, said. “Only under this Liberal health minister are these unsafe situations allowed to exist.”

Rushton, MLA for Cumberland North, said inadequate ambulance coverage means more responsibility is being downloaded to volunteer firefighters and other first responders.

“Volunteers should not be expected to fill the gaps made by Liberal mismanagement,” Rushton, who is the former chief of the Oxford Fire Department, said. “It’s not up to volunteers to paper over the cracks in the broken Liberal health system.”

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 727 released figures in late January saying, province-wide, there were 336 times in October when units were out of service or half-staffed, 274 in November, and 379 in December, for a total of 989 incidents in the three-month period.

PC Health critic Karla MacFarlane said the statistics are a reminder that Nova Scotia is in a health crisis.

“It’s time for the Liberals to acknowledge the crisis, listen to health professionals and patients and act to improve the system,” MacFarlane said.

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 727 is currently in contract negotiations with the province and have been without a contract for more than three years.

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