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Thomas to Hoskins: Consult paramedic unions on emergency service changes

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OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas sent the letter below to the Honourable Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. Thomas is calling on the Minister to uphold his government's commitment to include the unions representing paramedics in upcoming emergency services consultations. 

July 5, 2017

The Honourable Eric Hoskins,
Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
10th Floor, Hepburn Block
80 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2C4

Dear Minister Hoskins,

On June 29, representatives from the Ministry of Health made a presentation to members of Peel Regional Council’s Health System Integration Committee on your government’s proposal to “enhance emergency services in Ontario.”

During her presentation, Assistant Deputy Minister Patricia Li explained that as a first step in the multi-year journey of enhancing emergency services, the ministry plans to update the Ambulance Act through a “transparent and inclusive consultation process” this summer. However, a consultation schedule is provided which outlines the organizations with which there will be “targeted discussions.” According to the schedule, the unions will be “informed” rather than consulted with. This is not only troubling and unacceptable, it is contrary to assurances your government has made and to the very notion of inclusiveness being touted.

I am writing to express my deep concern about this proposed consultation process. The system-wide changes being considered will have a major impact on the work done by Ontario’s paramedics in providing pre-hospital patient care. Your government has stated that the unions would be part of the consultative process, and I must insist that this commitment be upheld.

Ambulance paramedics are not only the experts on the ground; they know emergency services better than anyone. They live and work in this system every day. They deliver highly specialized emergency services on the ground, and they know where changes and improvements need to be made. Excluding paramedics’ representatives is not only a disservice to our members on the front lines of care, but to all citizens of Ontario who would benefit from their knowledge and experience.

OPSEU proudly represents more than 2,100 paramedics in 20 communities across Ontario. On behalf of these members, I ask that you honour the commitment made to include all unions representing paramedics, and follow through with a consultation process that is truly transparent, inclusive and in pursuit of improving patient outcomes.


Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union

c:            Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Premier