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Paramedics participate in rally for Ontario health care

Posted: May 15, 2019

Lack of consultation before health care restructuring is a cause for concern, writes Carol Murray

OPINION May 09, 2019 by Carol Murray Mississauga News

Carol Murray is an Advanced Care Paramedic with Peel Regional Paramedic Services. – Joel D’Eath

 

Peel Regional Paramedics joined thousands of other Ontario health care workers at Queen’s Park on April 30 in a rally that was organized by the Ontario Health Coalition. The rally was in response to proposed changes to Ontario’s health care.

Although numerous negative funding changes were announced to health related departments in the recent budget, such as public health units, social services cuts, OHIP and safe injection sites, the ambulance and paramedic changes not announced in the budget surfaced two weeks ago in a surprise document. While the Ford government has distanced itself from the original document, it has indicated a desire to decrease the number of ambulance services in the province from 52 down to 10, and has not ruled out   privatization. Although very few details are known about the possible new restructuring, the lack of any consultation with paramedic unions or paramedic chiefs, the very groups that know this business and its patient’s the best, is quite concerning.

Currently, in the Region of Peel, the paramedic system is a first-rate, high-quality department responsible to the municipality and its citizens, with medical oversight from Sunnybrook Base Hospital.

Amalgamation into much larger centres will see the differences in geographical areas, regional programming and individual patients not taken into consideration. Privatization is also concerning because patient care will no longer be the No. 1 concern, but rather the amount of dollars being spent will be.

Over the last 19 years, the paramedic service in The Region of Peel has seen great change. Starting in 2001 when the provincial government downloaded the services to the municipalities, going from private and ministry run services to the current municipality owned service. Throughout this time we have seen committees of front-line paramedics who know the job itself consulted on items such as equipment, medicines, vehicles and medical regulations, all in the co-ordinated effort to improve the end result of patient care. There have been numerous front-line studies in medical research in Peel Region regulated by Sunnybrook hospital to help improve the care for all patients.

Attending the health care rally on April 30 was an opportunity for Peel paramedics to voice to the provincial government that health care and patient care matters and we have dedicated our lives to this cause. Surprise decisions without good consultation to make change to paramedic and ambulance service in this Region could have very negative and concerning results to the actual patients we serve.

Carol Murray is an Advanced Care Paramedic with Peel Regional Paramedic Services. She has been with the service for 28 years. Carol is one of two vice presidents of OPSEU Local 277. She may be reached at carolrayburnmurray@hotmail.com.

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