British Columbia’s Air Ambulance audit raises questions

British Columbia’s Air Ambulance audit raises questions 26 Mar, 13, Source: Canadian Taxpayers Federation

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) today called on B.C. political parties to review air ambulance service in the province and support a transition to a cheaper, not-for-profit model in their election platforms.

On Thursday, B.C. Auditor General John Doyle released a report on the air ambulance service, finding that “the B.C. Ambulance Service is unable to demonstrate the quality, timeliness and safety of its patient care… largely because the B.C. Ambulance Service lacks a performance-based approach for managing its air ambulance services.

“B.C. decision makers and taxpayers deserve better information about the service being provided to critically injured British Columbians,” said Jordan Bateman, CTF B.C. Director. “One has to wonder if this lack of information from the air ambulance service is linked to an inferiority in the service provided.”

Despite the lack of performance measures and data, provincial health ministers have consistently defended the air ambulance service model and rejected calls to move to an Alberta-style system.

“Alberta’s STARS air ambulance is a not-for-profit society that has better aircraft, more modern techniques and strong fundraising and volunteer groups,” said Bateman. “Over eight years, B.C. taxpayers will pay $75 million more for our air ambulance service than Alberta taxpayers pay for theirs – and we don’t even know if our service is up to snuff, performance-wise.”

Because of its non-profit status, STARS attracts support from corporate and individual donors. Last year, its second annual CEO challenge – where five CEOs were dropped in the wilderness until they raised a certain amount of money – raised $1 million for the service.

“STARS is so good that Saskatchewan and Manitoba have joined Alberta in a western Canadian initiative. B.C. is the lone holdout, sticking with the more expensive model,” said Bateman. “It’s time for a change in our air ambulance service.”

Editor note – British Columbia’s Air Ambulance is operated by Helijet using Sikorsky S76 aircraft

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