+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 3-23F

Minimum Standards for Adequate Ambulance Services in Rural Alberta

November 8, 2023
Expiry Date:
December 1, 2026
Active Status:
MD of Taber
1 - Foothills-Little Bow
Emergency Services
Sent to Government
Vote Results:

WHEREAS the Government of Alberta maintains responsibility for delivering emergency medical services (EMS); and

WHEREAS all Albertans deserve the same level of service and access to ambulance services; and

WHEREAS Alberta Health Services (AHS) has established varied target EMS response times, including 12 minutes for metro and urban areas, 15 minutes for communities with more than 3,000 residents, 40 minutes for rural communities under 3,000 residents, and 90 minutes for remote communities; and

WHEREAS rural Alberta communities, located outside urban areas and with populations fewer than 3,000, do not receive direct ambulance resources, including both personnel and equipment, under AHS service delivery, and

WHEREAS this lack of direct resources presents a significant risk of inadequate service provision; and

WHEREAS rural Alberta communities, outside of urban areas with populations less than 3,000, and that rely on volunteer services, face unique challenges in meeting minimum requirements and commitments essential to medical response; and

WHEREAS rural Alberta communities, outside of urban areas with populations less than 3,000, and that rely on volunteer services, find that ongoing training requirements and related costs become a significant impediment to retaining volunteers; and

WHEREAS the response time target for a life-threatening event is eight minutes for 50 percent of calls and 12 minutes for 90 percent of calls;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta advocate that the Government of Alberta and Alberta Health Services ensure every area of Alberta has available ambulances with qualified emergency personnel, capable of providing response times that ensure lifesaving measures.

Member Background:

Municipalities in rural Alberta rely on the Government of Alberta to provide adequate emergency medical services for the health and safety of our residents, in a way that promotes and supports the growth and stability of our province and our local communities.

Providing adequate service involves understanding the needs of each unique community and knowing the interconnectivity between surrounding communities to ensure a stable and sustainable service remains available for our residents.  There are communities throughout southern Alberta, such as the Town of Vauxhall and Village of Foremost, served by volunteer ambulance service.  These examples represent combined urban and surrounding rural populations that are just under the Alberta Health Services (AHS) rural 3,000 population category and are challenged with trying to maintain adequate ambulance service with success being linked to retaining essential volunteers.  Volunteers in today’s ambulance service struggle to maintain minimum standards that surround training and increasing demands related to volunteer services.

There is an important role for AHS to play in the provisioning of ambulance service in rural communities that includes supplying equipment, personnel, training, and systems that can support acceptable services delivery province wide.

According to the AHS mandate,1 the Regional Health Authorities Act (RHAA)2 charges AHS with responsibility to:

  • promote and protect the health of the population in Alberta and work toward the prevention of disease and injury;
  • assess on an ongoing basis the health needs of Albertans;
  • determine priorities in the provision of health services in Alberta and allocate resources accordingly;
  • ensure that reasonable access to quality health services is provided in and through Alberta;
  • promote the provision of health services in a manner that is responsive to the needs of individuals and communities and supports the integration of services and facilities in Alberta.

Communities throughout Alberta, large or small, are made up of residents that look to the province in support of their health and safety, and even more so in the event of an emergency.  The Government of Alberta has made many improvements over the years, with the exception of committing to provide reliable direct ambulance service to our smaller communities and surrounding areas.  These communities are primarily rural and appear to have somewhat fallen between the categories.  A review of rural and remote services is needed to identify these gaps in service and ensure that adequate resources and systems are put into in place to support communities now and into the future.


1 Government of Alberta (2010). Alberta Health Services – Mandate and Roles https://extranet.ahsnet.ca/teams/policydocuments/1/clp-ahs-mandate-roles.pdf

2   Government of Alberta (2022). Regional Health Authorities Act, RSA 2000, c. R-10 (RHAA)

RMA Background:

1-21F: Emergency Medical Services Capacity and Service Delivery in Rural Alberta

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta request the Government of Alberta to immediately consult with municipalities to develop a plan to make urgently needed improvements to the capacity, delivery, and performance of the emergency medical services system.

Click here to view the full resolution.

6-22S: Responsiveness of Service Delivery by Quasi-independent Agencies in Alberta

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta request that the Government of Alberta review the continued use of unelected, quasi-independent agencies for the administration and delivery of essential public services, with the results of the review published for public examination.

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Provincial Ministries:
Provincial Boards and Organizations:
Alberta Health Services
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