By Kendall King
After years of advocacy, HALO air ambulance service is in final negotiations for base operating grants, Premier Jason Kenney announced March 31.
During his visit to Medicine Hat, Kenney made a stop at the HALO hangar where he, joined by Health Minister Jason Copping, Brooks-Medicine Hat MLA Michaela Frey and HALO CEO Paul Carolan, announced the expected funding stemming from a potential five-year contract between HALO and Alberta Health Services.
“For the first time, HALO will be offered guaranteed funding and a contract with Alberta Health Services moving from a fee-for-service model to $1 million in annual guaranteed funding,” Kenney said.
In the past, HALO has operated under a fee-for-service model, where it would receive a sum for each call responded to. As there was no guaranteed stream of income, much of HALO’s $3-million budget was generated through partnerships with regional municipalities and community service organizations, fundraising and private donations.
Health Minister Jason Copping stated the guaranteed funding of $1 million would provide stable income for HALO and ensure its continued servicing of southern Alberta.
“The funding commitment is up to 50 per cent in terms of the base-operating funding,” Copping said. “There needs to be a discussion between AHS and the organization about how that’s going to work … I understand there are other revenue flows as well.”
Carolan is grateful for the expected partnership but emphasized the continued need for local support.
“This represents the missing partnership HALO has been advocating for for almost 20 years,” Carolan said during last Thursday’s press conference. “It not only allows us to continue to provide the level of service we have up until now, but it also gives us room to grow into an even better, world-class helicopter emergency medical service program, based right here in Medicine Hat.
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