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OPSEU to Ford government: Leave Paramedic services and Ambulance Communications Centres alone

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas

OPSEU is greatly concerned about reports that the Ford government is eyeing paramedic services and ambulance communications centres for drastic restructuring and privatization.

OPSEU condemns any plans by the Ford government to privatize paramedic services delivery.

This is unacceptable and will affect patient care. OPSEU opposes any changes that could put patients’ lives at risk.

The current delivery model for Paramedic Services best meets the needs of Ontario’s diverse and changing communities.

It is fiscally responsible, transparent, seamless and remains flexible enough to redirect resources as community needs change.

Despite challenges, the current delivery model has made great strides in the evolution of the Paramedics’ role in the community.

Paramedics remain the medical authority on all pre hospital emergency incidents and are now the backbone of community paramedicine, remote monitoring of chronic patients and wellness clinics, to name a few.

All of these programs are showing positive results in reducing 911 repeat calls, reduced visits to the emergency department and reduced hospitalization time.

The legislation as currently written also allows for alternate destination transport, treat and release and treat and refer. So far, no guidelines have been developed to assist in the implementation of these alternative care options.

Privatization is driven by profit. Profit is made by compromising working conditions, compromising equipment and compromising resources. Privatization is not fiscally responsible. Privatization is not transparent. Privatization is not seamless. Privatization is not flexible. Privatization will negatively affect patient care.

It is no coincidence that the document titled EMS Vision-Ontario 2050 authored by Bob DeShane and associates and Grosso McCarthy and associates, mirrors the government’s announcement of the privatization and reduction of 59 Paramedic services to 10 and 22 Ambulance communication centres to 10.

Bob DeShane was the previous owner operator of Lindsay ambulance service and later became the  service manager for Rural Metro; at that time one of the largest private ambulance providers in North America.

Grosso and McCarthy have strong Conservative connections and a long history of privatization lobbying. A review of EMS Vision-Ontario 2050 by anti-plagiarism software suggests that approximately 40 per cent of the content has been plagiarized from an American document titled EMS Agenda 2050 Envision the Future, released May 1, 2018.

In a recent social media post, Bob DeShane states “it was just one of the many proposals that were put forth by various parties”, however to date no other “proposals” have been seen by the public.

OPSEU won’t let its guard down by media reports that the government is distancing itself from proposals to dramatically privatize and restructure – where there is smoke there is fire.

OPSEU is committed to working with all stakeholders to formulate solutions that will result in improvements to the current delivery model that reduce deficiencies, duplications or redundancies.

When will the non-labour associations involved with paramedic services step out of the shadows and denounce Ford’s plans for privatization?

Privatization is for profit and not for the people.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas

Jamie Ramage, Chair, OPSEU Ambulance Division