| Posted: Tuesday, Jan 21, 2014 05:00 pm
Ongoing ambulance contract negotiations have an end in sight – city council agreed in principle to a renewal with Alberta Health Services Monday night.
The agreement comes after a few years of negotiations, Mayor Nolan Crouse said.
"We're very happy because we were concerned we weren't going to be able to get the agreement done," Crouse said on Tuesday.
The contract issue was discussed in camera during council's Monday meeting.
The contract, once signed, will continue to see the City of St. Albert provide local ambulance services for the next five years.
"It's going to be a several-year agreement and we're pleased with that," Crouse said.
A news release from the city notes more information on the contract will be released once the agreement is signed and Crouse said some details have yet to be ironed out.
"We still haven't signed it yet. What we've done is we've told our staff we're happy, move on and get the agreement ready for … myself and or (city manager) Patrick (Draper) to sign," Crouse said.
"We had some differences on financial arrangements. They have come back with financial arrangements that appears to be, every indication appears to be what works for St. Albert and we're ready to go," the mayor said.
While Crouse still believes the integrated service formerly used by St. Albert was better, "the province isn't interested in going back."
"Then the next best alternative is for us to contract out to Alberta Health Services and we provide it," Crouse said.
This means local staff will provide much of the service, though sometimes out-of-town ambulances are called in if needed.
The current agreement expires at the end of March, Crouse said, so the renewal contract should be signed by then.
Alberta Health Services provided comments via e-mail from Rick Trimp, interim CEO for population health and province-wide services.
"This is good news. A new long-term EMS contract will ensure residents continue to receive high-quality emergency medical care," Trimp said, thanking the city for its "diligence and patience" while working on the negotiations.
"Patient care is our top priority. We share that goal with the City of St. Albert and the St. Albert fire service. Together, we will continue to provide timely high-quality EMS care to city residents, and those in neighbouring communities."