Amended changes to Ontario’s Ambulance Act degrades rural health care

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Two women pilots with helmets sitting inside an Ornge chopper.

TORONTO—The Ontario Ministry of Health proposal to amend the Ambulance Act to employ nurses, physicians and respiratory therapists, along with paramedics for Ornge air flight ambulances will not improve patient outcomes in the province.

“Critical Care Paramedics are highly-trained health care professionals who have been pushed to the brink by their work and by this government’s wage cap. Of course there are staffing shortages, but the solution is to make these jobs better, not to cut standards of care for rural Ontarians,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National President. “Doctors and nurses are needed in Ontario’s hospitals, where staffing shortages are also rampant. These proposed changes will leave communities without readily available emergency services.”

The Ontario Ministry of Health (MOH) submitted a proposal to make amendments to its 1990 Ambulance Act. The amendment would see enabling a mixed crew configuration onboard Ornge aircraft due to recruitment and retention issues of paramedics.

“Ontario’s healthcare system continues to be on the brink of collapse, and the proposed changes to the Ambulance Act at this time will only exacerbate the problem,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. “This issue directly stems from Bill 124. Ornge paramedics work high-stress jobs in rural and remote communities, isolated from their families. Instead of recognition, the Ontario government offered them a 1% wage increase.”

The union believes that Ornge’s current practice of utilizing two Critical Care Paramedics provides the best patient outcomes and is the best value for Ontario taxpayers. Ornge has failed to act on any of the union’s proposals on recruitment and retention in recent years.

Unifor will send a submission to the Ministry of Health outlining additional concerns with and solutions to the recruitment and retention issues at Ornge.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

To arrange a phone, FaceTime, Zoom, Skype interview or for more information, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Hamid Osman at @email or
647-448-2823 (cell).

Media Contact

Hamid Osman

National Communications Representative