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Alberta government announces increase of STARS Air Ambulance funding

File: STARS lands at a scene in Alberta. Supplied to Global News

The Alberta government is increasing its funding of air ambulances in the province.

Friday afternoon, Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Jason Copping announced the province was more than doubling its share of funding to STARS Air Ambulance — just more than $8 million a year. The province will now contribute $15 million annually.

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“STARS makes miracles happen for patients and families that would not be possible if they weren’t there to answer the call, every day, 24/7,” Kenney said.

“Lives have been saved by the rapid and specialized emergency care and transportation that only STARS can offer.”

The premier said the change more than doubles the amount of funding from the province.

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The health minister added provincial funds account for more than half of the base operating budget for the air ambulance non-profit, whose formal name is Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service.

Previously, the provincial government covered about 23 per cent of the ambulance’s budget.

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Other funds also come from fundraising by the STARS Foundation.

“Stars is about as close as you can get to a flying ICU, supported by a nurse, a paramedic and access to a transport medic if you need it,” Copping said.

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Andrea Robertson, president and CEO of STARS, called it a “historic day.”

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“When these individuals experience what is likely the worst day of their lives, Albertans want to know the highest level of care is available to them,” she said.

“This increased funding will help us deliver critical care to more patients across Alberta for years to come.

“It enables us to provide care through the helicopter and way beyond, including virtual care, and by supporting our partners across the province.”

The increased funding for STARS comes from $64 million earmarked in the 2022 budget for emergency medical services.

Copping promised an announcement for the areas serviced by HALO and HERO air ambulances in the coming days.

— With files from Adam Toy, Global News

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