New Brunswick

New Brunswick takes over ambulance service

New Brunswick is taking over its ambulance services, creating a single, province-wide system by this winter.

New Brunswickis taking over its ambulance services, creatinga single, province-widesystem by this winter.

There are currently more than three dozenambulance service providers in the province, including private companies, hospital authorities, and not-for-profit organizations.

By November, the public company Ambulance New Brunswick will take over.It hassigned a 10-year deal with New Brunswick EMS Inc.,created by Medavie Blue Cross to run the provincial ambulance system.

Existing private-sector ambulance services will be bought out, but their employees will become union members with public sector salaries.

Clifford Constantine of the Petitcodiac-Salisbury ambulance service says that willmean big improvements.

"Standards, one standard for everybody, consistent pay scales, consistent levels of services," Constantine said.

Under its contract, Medavie will have to meet certain targets, such as response times of nine minutes in urban areas and 22 minutes in rural areas, 90 per cent of the time.

Medavie has run the Nova Scotia ambulance service for a decade, and company official George McLellan says it has never had to pay a penalty for missing its targets.

"We have met our commitments on high performance throughout the term of the contract."

Provincial Health Minister Mike Murphy says Ambulance New Brunswick will be up and running by November, though it'll take three years for the new system to be completely in place.