KAMLOOPS - A candidate in the upcoming Kamloops byelection is already finding himself in a bit of a tête-à-tête with a provincial government body.
Being an air ambulance paramedic himself, it isn't surprising Todd McLeod feels he has some extra insight around the issue of emergency medical care in Kamloops. He says the city is woefully understaffed when it comes to paramedics as it only has four ground ambulances in operation. Though he hasn't earned any votes yet, he has already reached out to the province about the matter.
He says after writing a letter to B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix about the issue he had a meeting with the Chief Transformation Officer for B.C. Emergency Health Services Nanci Kotani. McLeod claims that during that meeting he was promised Kamloops will be getting more support.
"She is saying, and I'm going to hold her to this, that they are going to put two extra full-time ambulances into Kamloops," he says. "I worked very hard on this and I feel this is fantastic news that will directly bring in 16 new full-time jobs."
However, Emergency Health Services is saying that is not the case. In a statement from the government body regarding McLeod's claim he has been promised more ambulances we are told it is unkown at this point which communities will be getting how many more ambulances and when.
"In March 2017 as part of a multi-million dollar funding announcement by the previous government, additional resources for the Interior were referenced," says Communications Officer Alex Dabrowski in a statement. "As the provincial budget still needs to be passed, and the new government has yet to share its priorities, the exact number of and timing for when additional resources will be deployed have not been finalized."
It would appear McLeod's statements are garnering him some attention at the Emergency Health Services head office as in the initial call for a comment, a communications officer said they anticipated a call from the media about what McLeod has been saying.
The mayoral candidate says he was shocked to hear Dabrowski's statement and he insists that during a phone conversation on Aug. 2, Kotani told him point blank the ambulances would be coming in the next six months.
"It was very clear and we spoke for about half an hour and that is what she said, otherwise I wouldn't make those claims because it would be silly of me to do that," he says.
He said he agrees with the statement from Emergency Health Services that funding was announced back in March, though none of it had been allocated for a particular destination. McLeod says the purpose of his initial contact with the provincial government on this matter was to ensure that Kamloops would receive some of that funding to add ambulances.
Another initiative McLeod claims the province supports is employing Advanced Care Community Paramedics who would be able to perform diagnostics, write physician facilitated prescriptions, and obtain lab samples. However, Emergency Health Services is again not confirming or denying whether that promise was made to the mayoral hopeful.
The byelection is set for Sept. 30 and will have residents deciding between McLeod and five other candidates for mayor. There are 22 candidates trying to win one of two council seats.
For more on the 2017 byelection, go here.
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