Labrador Ambulance Service contract terminated by health minister

1 / 2
Services improving, 6 months after ambulance takeover: Labrador-Grenfell Health

After a series of complaints about Happy Valley-Goose Bay patients waiting way too long for an ambulance, the health minister has pulled the plug on the contract held by Labrador Ambulance Services.

The contract was terminated at 6 p.m. Friday, John Haggie told CBC News.

For now, the Labrador-Grenfell Health Authority will operate the service with casual employees drafted from around the island.

"What we've done in the last few days is to deal with the issue of an inadequate service in Goose Bay," Haggie said. "What we will do in the next year or so is unknown."

Haggie said on Wednesday that he had lost confidence in the contractor's ability to provide service after yet another complaint from a family in the Lake Melville area.

A 74-year-old woman died Tuesday in Happy Valley-Goose Bay from what is believed to be a heart attack. Her family told CBC News she waited more than 40 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.

Other families have told CBC about similar waits. One man who fell down outside after having a stroke in November 2016 waited more than an hour for help. He died in hospital two weeks later.

A review by the regional health authority showed that while the ambulance operator was paid to have two ambulances on the road, it had only one in service for about half the time.

Haggie has arranged for an extra ambulance from western Newfoundland to be sent to Labrador and for paramedics to be flown in.

His department has yet to tally the cost of the changeover from Labrador Ambulance Service to replacement ambulances and staff managed by the health authority. At this point, he said, the cost is irrelevant.

"We will do what we need to in the short term to ensure a stable, reliable service."