Statement on Air Ambulance Services at Peace River Regional Airport (YPE)
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
As a remote, rural, northern community, access to medical services and air ambulance is not a matter of convenience, it is critical for the health of the region and some 40,000 Albertans.
Peace River Mayor Tom Tarpey and a delegation of Mayors and Reeves from the region met with Minister Hoffman and local MLAs, in Edmonton on Tuesday, April 18, regarding the issue of the current Alberta Health Services Request For Proposals for air ambulance and medevac services. We feel the Minister understood our concerns and is finding a way to ensure that Albertans in the Peace Region will not go without air ambulance service and to ensure the economic viability of the Peace Regional Airport.
“We had a frank discussion with the Minister of Health, we made our concerns clear in a polite yet firm manner. I am confident we were heard,” said Peace River Mayor Tom Tarpey. “We will follow up on the meeting with a letter to reiterate our concerns.”
On March 24, 2017, the Town of Peace River was made aware of the RFP process underway regarding the search for an air ambulance provider and the possibility of consolidation of existing services under fewer providers. Concerns arose that the new provider may choose to base services at another airport other than Peace River Regional.
Currently, Air Ambulance and Medevac services combined with scheduled flight service provides cost-effective air-charter service to the region. That regular service allows the Town of Peace River to access necessary funds from Transport Canada’s Airports Capital Assistance Program (ACAP). Without that funding, the Peace River Regional Airport would be unsustainable financially for the local municipalities.
Once aware of the RFP process, the Town of Peace River wrote to Minsters Hoffman, Mason and others as well as Premier Notley and encouraged our neighbours to do the same. Those letters of support helped to secure today’s meeting with the ministers.
About the airport
Peace River Regional Airport (YPE) is Alberta’s most northwest hub airport. In 2014 $11,395,372 was invested by the federal government for runway and taxiway rehabilitation and expansion. In 2016 a landmark deal was reached by the Town of Grimshaw, MD of Peace, County of Northern Lights, Town of Peace River and Northern Sunrise County for the joint funding of the airport.
Currently, in addition to scheduled air service, air ambulance, and medevac services, the Peace River Regional Airport plays a role in Alberta Forestry’s Wildfire Management. In 2016 when Fort McMurray (YMM) was briefly evacuated due to fire, Peace River Regional Airport provided tower services for Wood Buffalo fire operations. Additionally, the airport is a hotbed of activity throughout the fire season.