By Justin Seward
It was at a regional mayors and reeves meeting at the M.D. of Taber earlier this month that HALO announced they are $750,000 short of their annual budget for the BK-117 helicopter.
“We met with the health minister in July and based on the current provincial economic state and their plans to role out their physical budget in October, we discussed what the funding model would look like between now and then,” said HALO representative Paul Carolan.
“One of the pieces of advice was we could also make sure that the counties and municipalities were also aware that with the new helicopter the budget shortfall is quite high. We were granted that opportunity to present to those mayors and reeves and that’s what we discussed with them was both conversation we had the Minister of Health Shandro and sort of what that looked like on a go forward basis.”
When HALO Rescue went to the newer helicopter, their budget increased three times from $850,000 to $2.6 million.
“As most people are aware we did get the $1 million grant from the Alberta government, but that leaves a budget shortfall of $1.6 million,” he said.
“In traditional terms, the HALO organization is up to $860,000 in the past. That leaves the program $800,000 or so short. That’s the number we’re discussing with mayors and reeves is somewhere in that $750,000.”
Carolan says what they were reiterating to the mayors and reeves was the service is critical in this area and need their ongoing support.
“They’ve been incredible,” he said.
“They’ve supported the program for years. Just last night (Aug. 14), at Market in the Park in Bow Island, the County of Forty Mile doubled(donation went from $25,000 to $50,000) their gift this year to help out with that difference.”
HALO has to be make sure they’re getting funding from all levels of government to make up the shortfall, he added.
“There’s no panic button here for HALO,” said Carolan.
“We’ve always been able to fund the program and the community has been incredible to make sure that’s possible.”