Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at 2 p.m.
Counties plan for million-dollar ambulance debt
The United Counties of Prescott-Russell may be getting some legal advice about a two-year-old debt for ambulance service it’s been trying to collect from the City of Ottawa.
Michel Chrétien, Prescott-Russell director of emergency services, told counties council Wednesday morning that he has talked with the UCPR’s legal counsel about the outstanding bill for more than $1 million which the city owes for its demands on the counties ambulance service to deal with emergency calls in Ottawa.
“It’s tough to shame them (Ottawa) because there’s no legislation to force them to pay,” Chrétien said during a later interview.
The whole problem is a result of provincial regulations for ambulance service which insist that the nearest available unit respond when emergency dispatch calls. Rather than hire more paramedics and buy more ambulance units and equipment to handle its own growing emergency calls, Ottawa has relied on “borrowing” units from neighbouring counties like Prescott-Russell or Renfrew.
The legislation does not require municipalities to reimburse the cost of using another’s ambulance service. It does allow for municipalities to sign mutual sharing agreements if they wish but Chrétien said Ottawa refuses to do so.
“Basically, what they’re saying is ‘Why should I when I get it (extra ambulances) for free?’” he said.
Chrétien will present counties council at its regular meeting later this month with a list of recommendations from his legal consultation for dealing with Ottawa’s ambulance debt.