B.C. spends $91 million to hire paramedics, buy ambulances, targets rural care

VICTORIA - British Columbia is getting more paramedics, dispatchers and ambulances in an effort by the government to improve emergency services.

Health Minister Terry Lake said Wednesday more than $91 million will be spent over the next three years to hire 60 paramedics, 20 emergency dispatchers and buy six new ambulances.

The province will also complete the implementation of a program that allows paramedics in 73 rural communities to provide minor health services to patients.

"It will take time to recruit, train and place people, but I know B.C. Emergency Health Services is very aware of areas of the province that have challenges," Lake said.

He said the funding for increased emergency staff and equipment goes beyond providing resources to fight the opioid overdose crisis that resulted in a record 922 deaths last year.

The extra ambulances, paramedics and dispatchers will result in faster response times for emergencies, but the funding will also help create sustainable communities, Lake said.

"It's not just about response times in urban areas, although that's very important. It's about serving rural and remote communities and making a career for people in those communities."

The provincial goal for responses in urban centres is within nine minutes in 75 per cent of calls.

In this old photo submitted by the City of Kelowna, the 1151 Sunset Drive location was added in editing. Other versions show the location veiled in green, as it is still under construction but not complete.
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