Posted on Thursday April 18, 2019 at 1:04 p.m.
Ford government surprise plan worries ambulance chief
A surprise announcement by Premier Doug Ford about plans to revamp Ontario’s paramedics services has Prescott-Russell’s ambulance chief and his staff worried.
“They (staff) have a whole bunch of questions,” said Michel Chrétien, Prescott-Russell emergency services director on April 18, “and I can’t answer them.”
On Monday, April 15, the premier revealed the Progressive Conservative government’s intention to reduce Ontario’s land ambulance service from 52 regional outfits to 10 mega-region operations. The premier did not say how the massive revamping of the province’s ambulance service would be done and that is what worries Chrétien.
“How are we going to maintain speed and quality of care?” he said, adding that he and other regional ambulance chiefs were “completely blindsided” by the premier’s announcement.
Chrétien worries that ambulance service needs for rural areas of the province, like Prescott-Russell, could receive less priority than larger urban communities like Ottawa.
Followup comments by the premier and other senior government officials stated that the provincial government will “work closely with its paramedic and municipal partners” on the new ambulance service plan. But both the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs stated that they were never consulted by the government about the proposal before Monday’s announcement.
Chrétien expressed hope that the provincial government put any further plans for revamping Ontario’s ambulance service on temporary hold now and do a proper consultation with municipalities and paramedics on its proposal.