The province is now posting ambulance response times online for most areas of Alberta, following complaints that staff shortages and tie-ups at emergency rooms were creating delays.

Statistics show that the average wait for an ambulance in Edmonton last month was around 11½ minutes, nine times out of ten.

Response times have dropped by two minutes a call since January, according to Mike Conroy, senior vice-president of the Edmonton Zone for Alberta Health Services

"We've improved overall patient flow within the hospital," Conroy said. "So we're moving people up to the in-patient units more quickly. That frees up emergency room staff to accommodate those patients arriving with the ambulance."

While the current Edmonton response time is down, Liberal health critic David Swann says the times EMTs and paramedics wait at hospitals until patients are admitted remains unchanged.

He says studies show that an ambulance shouldn't take any longer than seven minutes to respond to life-threatening situations.

"I think the government knows this is not good news," Swann said.  "It's showing itself to have failed Albertans."

Two ambulances added to Edmonton

While the response times have been on the AHS website for about two months, the health authority never told the public the information was there. Swann believes this was done on purpose.

"I find it very interesting that they haven't notified anyone that they've put up this information," Swann said. "The EMS workers that I spoke to were surprised to hear it was up ... and the real story, of course, is that nothing's changed."

Earlier this year, Swann called on the Health Quality Council of Alberta to look at ambulance response times. An online survey conducted by the union that represents paramedics and EMTs suggested wait times were getting worse.

Of the Edmonton workers who took the survey by the Health Sciences Association of Alberta in November, 71.8 per cent said they were unable to meet response times targets at least three times over their last four shifts and 72 per cent said they had calls they couldn't get to for an hour or more.

Workers say a shortage of ambulances were part of the problem. Crews said they were often tied up with patients who lie in hallways of emergency departments for hours, waiting for treatment.

AHS says that two extra 24-hour ambulances have been added to Edmonton and 12 new EMTs have been hired this year, with another 14 set to be hired soon.