Government of Canada invests $65 million in five new emergency medical helicopters for STARS in Western Canada

News release

March 28, 2019
Regina, Saskatchewan
Public Safety Canada

When tragedy strikes, every second counts. Saving lives can depend on being able to get people who are critically injured to the care they need in a timely, effective and coordinated way.

Today, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, announced a $65-million grant from the Government of Canada to Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS) to fund the purchase of five new helicopters.

These five new helicopters, part of a fleet renewal plan that includes the purchase of nine new aircraft, will help to increase STARS’ availability of service, and improve their flexibility to respond to emergencies across the region.  The plan also streamlines flight operations from two current helicopter types to a single-model fleet, resulting in less time and money spent on maintenance and training.

Since 1985, STARS, a not-for-profit organization, has been a critical player in the emergency management field in Western Canada. STARS coordinates and delivers rapid and specialized helicopter emergency medical services across Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and parts of British Columbia, including in Indigenous communities and national parks. Thanks to STARS, Western Canadians living, working, or playing in rural and remote communities have access to emergency care when they most need it.

This investment helps support emergency response services in the region, and is aligned with the common priorities that all federal, provincial and territorial governments agreed to in the Emergency Management Strategy for Canada.


“STARS is a vital lifesaving service across the West. Our investment will provide them with five new, modern, first-class emergency medical helicopters that will help save lives.  The Government of Canada is proud to support STARS in renewing its fleet—their work is precious to so many lives across the region.”

- The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

“This commitment by the Government of Canada is an investment in the future of Western Canadians, enabling STARS to be there to fight for the lives of patients in need for generations to come. This is a historic announcement for STARS and for our fleet renewal process. It’s exceptional news for our patients.”

- Andrea Robertson, President and CEO, STARS 

Quick facts

  • STARS has flown over 40,000 missions, providing rapid and specialized helicopter emergency medical services to patients who are critically ill or injured. Recently, STARS has been involved in responding to several high profile emergency management events, including the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, the school shooting in La Loche, the Fort McMurray wildfires, and the 2013 Spring floods in Calgary.

  • A significant element of the STARS service is its Emergency Link Centre, which activates quickly to coordinate emergency responses, share information and pool resources among responding agencies and organizations including those across provincial borders.

  • In January 2019, Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Emergency Management released the Emergency Management Strategy for Canada, which outlines five common priority areas for action. Today’s announcement aligns with the priority to enhance disaster response capacity and coordination, and to foster the development of new capabilities. 

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Scott Bardsley
Manager of Media and Communications
Office of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Media Relations
Public Safety Canada

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