The EMS advisory committee has been working since its inception in January to provide recommendations to help alleviate the current pressures on the EMS system, including addressing the major staffing shortages felt province wide. In May, Jason Copping, Minister of Health announced that Alberta would have a one-year exemption from current staffing requirements that will now allow Emergency Medical Responders (EMRs) to work on ambulances.

In August 2020, the Government of Alberta released the Ground Ambulance Services Regulation. A key piece of this regulation was the reclassification of ambulances and the respective staffing requirements. When the new regulations were implemented, Emergency Medical Responders (EMRs) were no longer permitted to work on public ambulances classified as 1, 2 or 3, which are emergent response units.

About the temporary exemption to allow EMRs to staff more ambulances:

  • EMRs are one of three classes of EMS practitioners registered with the College
  • The temporary exemption means that, when necessary, two EMRs can transfer non-emergency patients without the need for a paramedic on board.
  • Also, in situations when no other option is available, EMRs can join an ACP or PCP to respond to emergency urgent calls.
  • The change is in line with other provinces, including British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, which allow EMRs to function in a variety of similar roles.

What does the one-year exemption mean for EMRs?

All Emergency Medical Responders that wish to work on ambulances over the next year are permitted to do so. Employers that are having trouble with staffing shortages can now extend employment for these services to EMRs. However, at this time this is only a one-year exemption and the College does not have any further information about what will happen in May 2023 to the staffing requirements under the Ground Ambulance Services Regulation.