New money announced in the P.E.I. budget last week will help paramedics respond more quickly to emergencies, says Health Minister Carolyn Bertram.
Ambulances are taking too long to arrive at calls, especially in West Prince and Eastern P.E.I., Bertram said.
She has set a benchmark for ambulance response times of 23 minutes. Anything consistently longer than that in a particular area, she said, needs to be fixed. The province has set aside $300,000 to do that in the eastern and western ends of the province.
"Island EMS collects data on a monthly basis, and obviously we're making these announcements based on the facts and the data that they have collected," said Bertram.
The money won't buy additional ambulances, but it will mean vehicles currently in the system will be on the roads more.
"We've increased some of those 12-hour trucks to be 24-hour trucks," said Bertram.
"We're looking at the stations and where they're stationed as to better effectively respond to those emergency calls."
In West Prince paramedics will be on the clock 42 more hours each week, and 60 extra hours in Kings County. That will mean more hours for current staff. Bertram is also shuffling the ambulances around to add another vehicle to the Montague area.
Taxpayers are also stepping in to help Island EMS replace five ageing ambulances. The total price tag for the new vehicles is just over half a million dollars, and the province will pay $310,000 of that.