It Was Only Two Decades Ago – After Hard Lobbying – That Niagara Finally Got It’s Vital Ambulance Dispatch Services Back
Some Breaking News from CBC with Brief Commentary from Doug Draper on Niagara At Large
Posted April 16th, 2019 on Niagara At Large
According to a news report this April 16th on CBC Radio, CBC reporters have learned that Ontario’s Ford government is now considering plans to merge 59 ambulance services across the province (and Niagara’s regional government now operates one of those 59 services into just 10 for all of Ontario.
“The Ford government intends to merge the 59 local ambulance services in Ontario into just 10, CBC News as learned,” reads the report that CBC posted online, shortly after 10 a.m. this April 14th.
“The plan is hinted at in the budget tabled last week by Finance Minister Vic Fedeli, with a passing reference to “integrating emergency health services into Ontario’s health care system,” the CBC report continues. “The government will streamline the way land ambulance dispatch services are delivered by better integrating Ontario’s 59 emergency health services operators and 22 dispatch centres,” says the document, without providing details.”
This news should be worrisome to residents across Niagara because it was just two decades ago that Niagara’s regional government had to lobby like hell to get the then Ontario government of Mike Harris (the current Premier Doug Ford’s old friend and mentor) to give the region back its own ambulance dispatch service after merging it with one in Hamilton years earlier.
While the dispatch calls were being handled for Niagara out of Hamilton, there were reported cases of ambulances in the Niagara area being dispatched to wrong addresses – sometimes to a street with the same name in a different municipality than the one where the emergency call had been made.
Concerns were raised at the time that patients might die while waiting for an ambulance heading to the wrong location because dispatchers from outside of the Niagara area were not familiar with the lay of the land here.
After the Niagara’s regional government, under then Chairwoman Debbie Zimmerman, were finally able to get a dispatch services back in Niagara, there was a marked improvement in the response times of paramedic services here, and the region’s paramedic team was winning national recognition for the quality of service s in this region compared to many others.
Now – thanks to a plan that Ford and members of his Tory caucus never discussed with constituents across the province during last year’s election – Niagara may be facing the possibility of losing control of this critical, life-and-death service again.
Niagara At Large has contacted Niagara’s regional government for any statement it may release on this development.
We will be sure to update you on this matter if we hear any more from regional or provincial representatives, or find out more about what our so-called “Government for the People’ at Queen’s Park has in store for us next.
To read the brief report posted by CBC News, click on – https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/doug-ford-ambulance-paramedic-merger-emergency-health-1.5099773 .
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