N.B. premier unveils ‘fundamental reforms’ to improve ambulance response times

Ambulance New Brunswick, the People’s Alliance party, and the province’s Tory government have come up with a solution they say will address ambulance response times and language issues.

Premier Blaine Higgs says they are creating a new dedicated non-emergency transfer service for hospital patients.

A court ruling last year said bilingual paramedic services must be provided, but a labour adjudicator said there may be ways to lessen the language requirements, so the previous Liberal government asked for a judicial review to be heard in late January.

The new transfer service will allow Ambulance New Brunswick to pre-identify the patient’s language of choice and match the staff as the situation requires.

Transfers make up about 30 per cent of ambulance calls in the province, and 40 casual paramedics will be converted to full-time staff to meet the needs.

A union spokesman says he’ll wait and see if that allows them to meet the bilingual requirement on emergency calls, and says the next priority is getting a wage increase for paramedics – something People’s Alliance Leader Kris Austin says he is also pushing for.

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