Canadian paramedics: Ambulance Act changes could put lives at risk

Paramedics are planning a protest, saying the amendments, such as moving toward fire-based EMS, are “happening without regulatory and managerial oversight”

By EMS1 Staff

TORONTO — Canadian paramedics are planning to protest a bill that would amend the Ambulance Act, saying patients will be harmed and lives will be put at risk.

Digital Journal reported that the protest against Bill 160 is planned for Dec. 12 and paramedics will express their opposition to the changes, which include moving toward a fire-based EMS system.

"Only under exceptional circumstances do we come out, stand on the steps of the Legislature to urge government not to make delivery changes that we believe will put Ontarians lives at risk," Canadian Union of Public Employees chairman and paramedic Jason Fraser said. "This is happening without adequate regulatory and managerial oversight, instead of moving resources to our existing ambulance-based paramedic services, which are less costly than fire departments to run and have several levels of quality assurance for patients. It is not an exaggeration to say the provincial government is courting death and disaster with these changes to the Ambulance Act.”

The union has repeatedly opposed the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association’s proposals to increase the use of firefighters in emergency medical care.

“If passed, this bill will affect big changes we feel will be negative for patient outcomes and cost municipalities more for emergency medical services,” Fraser said. “We engaged in discussions with this government for more than two years urging them not to go forward with them. We are not alone in flagging concerns, making constructive amendments to the government-proposed Bill, and, unfortunately, being ignored."

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