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Wynne missing the mark with ‘expanded medical responses,’ OPSEU says

Illustration of ambulances

Toronto – The Ontario Liberal government’s plan to expand the role of firefighters in emergency medical calls will be costly and dangerous, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) says.

Earlier this week, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced that the province will fund pilot projects in two municipalities to test what it has called “expanded medical responses,” meaning that firefighters will have an expanded role in pre-hospital care.

“Despite some positive changes announced by the Premier, the proposed model takes emergency services down the wrong road,” OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said. “If this government is truly committed to improving and modernizing EMS, it should focus on effective and efficient changes that our system actually needs.

“Our EMS system works well, and saves lives every day. Instead of railroading through a plan that is not supported by any evidence, the government should improve funding for paramedic ambulance services. That’s what the system needs.”

OPSEU, which proudly represents more than 2,100 paramedics in 20 communities across Ontario, has been calling for more single paramedic response units, backed up by ambulances, to reduce the response time in emergencies.

“We’re disappointed by the direction this government has taken,” said Jamie Ramage, chair of OPSEU’s Ambulance Division. “The government’s consultation process was evidently nothing more than a costly make-work project. Every submission the government received opposed this plan, with the sole exception being that of the firefighters’ association. OPSEU and many other groups have presented a mountain of evidence against this model, yet the Premier has chosen to disregard all of it.”

OPSEU will continue to call on the Ontario government to reconsider this plan. For more information about the changes OPSEU’s Ambulance Division is calling for, please watch our recent video here.

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931; Jamie Ramage, 905-730-9351