to Ontario Government's Anti-Social Offensive
Proper Investments Required So Workers Can Provide Citizens with the Services They Need
Contingent of paramedics participates in Health Care Day of Action,
Queen's Park, April 30, 2019.
Workers' Forum: On May 17 the Canadian
Union of Public Employees (CUPE) issued a press release entitled "In
the face of dire funding cuts, Ontario paramedics ask: 'Will there be
an ambulance available when you need one?'" Can you tell us more about
The funding model for paramedic services in Ontario is roughly a 50-50
split. The province contributes 50 per cent and the municipalities
contribute 50 per cent. That is each year. Typically, the provincial
government increases the amount it transfers by about 5 per cent each
year. What they have done is they have
frozen the amount of money that they are transferring at 2017-2018
rates. Municipalities have already passed their budgets for 2019. They
were expecting 50 per cent of whatever their budget was going to be
this year to come from the provincial government but they are now
getting less, they are actually getting what their budget was for the
year. That is a significant shortfall for paramedic services across the
We don't really know what municipalities are going to do
to offset those costs yet. Some municipalities committed to having new
vehicles in service, to having more paramedics. Right now we do not
know how they are going to make up that shortfall.
For example, in the Durham Region they have a $1.75
million shortfall. The question is how are they going to make up that
shortfall. Had the provincial government not frozen the rates, the
region of Durham would have got that $1.75 million from the government.
WF: In the communique, you are
quoted as saying that ambulance services are already facing situations
in which they cannot provide adequate services to Ontarians.
JF: Yes. Across the province, in
several areas, we have what are called code zeroes, a situation where
there is either limited resources or no ambulances available to respond
to calls. That is already happening in certain communities across the
Will this funding shortfall result in some paramedics
being laid off? We don't know yet. Is it going to further increase the
lack of resources, especially in municipalities that were going to put
a vehicle on the road and were relying on that funding from the
province? Now they don't have the funding so they can't put that other
vehicle on the
We know that call volume is
increasing between 3.5 per cent and 5 per cent a year. The call volume
is increasing because of many factors, one being the aging population.
Also, in the city of Toronto, the provincial government cancelled the
funding for safe injection sites which had really reduced the number of
911 calls. With safe injection
sites closing because they do not have the funding, that means more
people are calling 911.
We are still looking at what is going to be the impact
Further, with paramedic services and communication
centres as well, the provincial government is looking at restructuring
everything. We currently have 52 land ambulance services that are
operated by municipalities and the province is looking at restructuring
them, at reducing their number. We have not been consulted on that yet.
We had a
little technical briefing on it and we have been promised a seat at the
table but we do not have any dates for that yet. It is definitely not
going to be 52 services. It might go down to 10 services. Each
municipality would be lumped in within a larger geographical area. We
would have to cover a larger area but we do not have enough resources
cover our own areas so that is just going to make matters worse again.
This does not bode well at all.
We would like to see the provincial funding reinstated
so that the services get the appropriate amount of money they need to
operate their service. As far as the restructuring goes, we think that
the best model is the current model. They just need to properly invest
in our services so that we can provide them to the citizens of Ontario.
This article was published in
Number 21 - June 6, 2019
to Ontario Government's Anti-Social Offensive: Proper Investments Required So Workers Can Provide Citizens with the Services They Need >