Posted Sunday, March 27 at 8:00 a.m.
Patience wearing thin about ambulance problem
A few of the mayors of Prescott-Russell are growing short of patience with both the province and the City of Ottawa concerning the wait for a solution to the ambulance shortage situation.
Emergency Services Director Michel Chrétien presented the United Counties of Prescott-Russell council (UCPR) with a power-point summary on the situation concerning the City of Ottawa’s over-dependence on the UCPR’s ambulance units to answer emergency calls from the city.
The situation reached a crisis point last month when for a short period of time there were no UCPR ambulance units available for any emergencies in Prescott-Russell because they were all dealing with Ottawa call-outs.
Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins has since issued a directive to Ottawa’s ambulance service for changes to its call-out policy to make its own units and paramedics more available to deal with its own emergency calls.
During his report Chrétien explained the history behind changes to the provincial Ambulance Act which has created the problem, and also why the UCPR is no longer allowed to bill the City of Ottawa for travel and staff costs when a Prescott-Russell ambulance unit deals with an Ottawa call.
He also outlined a six-step plan to confront the City of Ottawa and the province with the seriousness of the situation and force them to come up with a solution that eliminates Ottawa’s over-dependence on the UCPR ambulance service. The final steps of the plan would, if necessary, involve filing formal complaints with both the Ontario Ombudsman and the Auditor-General.
“I think we’ve been waiting long enough,” said Pierre Leroux, Russell Township mayor. “I would suggest that the waiting is over and we should proceed with all the steps.”
“We’ll keep knocking on the door,” said Warden Gary Barton, adding that he has noted that Ottawa’s own daily papers have been “sympathetic” towards Prescott-Russell in their coverage of the situation.