Sask. health authority board votes to end contract with Lloydminster ambulance operator

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In a special meeting, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) board voted unanimously to end its contract with a company that operates ambulances in Lloydminister.

The move, which will still need approval from the province's health minister, was prompted by the firm's inability to meet the obligations outlined in its contract, according to the board.

"The decision to terminate the contract with just cause is a result of that operator being unable to fulfill his contractual agreements over an extended period of time," Corey Miller, SHA vice-president of programs said during the meeting.

The company, Dutchak Holding, took over the existing contract from a previous operator in June of 2013, according to the SHA.

CTV News has requested a response from the firm.

The contract requires the company to have at least three ambulances available at all times with one ambulance equipped to provide advanced life support.

While taking questions from media during the virtual board meeting, SHA pre-hospital emergency manager Rod MacKenzie said Dutchak Holding had been notified that it was not meeting its obligation in a formal letter sent "a couple of months ago" and in another letter sent this month.

MacKenzie said that to the best of the health authority's knowledge, no patient was ever at risk.

"We have contingency plans so if a service is not available we have other operators that are able to come into the area," MacKenzie said.

"There may have been some delays in response from an ambulance, but there was no adverse events, no harm to any patients."

Lloydminster's unique status as a border city means there is another ambulance provider on the community's Alberta side, Prairie EMS, which is operated by Medavie Health Services.

Dutchak Holding, operating under the name WPD Ambulance Lloydminster, will continue to serve the Saskatchewan side until health minister Paul Merriman makes his decision.

The firm also has the option of heading to arbitration to dispute the decision. If the company chooses that route, it would be permitted to operate until a decision is rendered.