Peel Council Urges Province to Step up Funding
( Brampton ) – At Regional Council today, members of Council expressed grave concern over the looming crisis in ambulance service delivery. Increased public demand, coupled with paramedics who are tied up in overburdened emergency wards, have made the issue of funding critical. This was the message that the Regional Chair and the Mayors of Mississauga , Brampton and Caledon sent to Health Minister George Smitherman at a meeting held earlier in the week.
Faced with growing service demands including a 34 per cent increase in emergency call volumes, Council has virtually tripled its annual investments to $35 million over the past four years in order to meet the needs of Peel residents. Peel Council has demonstrated its commitment to the health and safety of the community by also approving the implementation of more than 100,000 additional service hours which is the equivalent of adding 12 ambulances operating on a 24/7 basis. However, since 2001 provincial support has fallen to 29 per cent in 2005 – a shortfall of 80,000 hours of service that remain unfunded.
Peel has been dealing with issues related to increased population growth and rising costs in ambulance operations. The long delays that paramedics experience in overcrowded hospital emergency rooms add up to the equivalent of three ambulances being taken off the road on average each hour of the day. At the meeting with the Minister, the province invited Peel to be part of a broader provincial task force looking at ways to reduce off-load delays at hospitals.
“I raised concern about this issue in Regional Council because the situation is urgent,” said Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion. “Our taxpayers count on us to run a cost-effective ambulance service. I’m glad we can say we’ve met with the province and we’re committed to putting a plan together to deal with the problems facing the system.”
“On behalf of our residents, our voices were heard,” said Town of Caledon Mayor Marolyn Morrison . “I commend the Minister of Health for taking a serious look at our business case for change. I believe he is now more aware that our system is under pressure and under-resourced and is willing to take a look at how his government can help us.”
“The reality is that Peel’s service is just not sustainable without a strong partnership between municipalities and the province,” said Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell.
“We’re confident the province fully appreciates the issues facing ambulance service in our community today,” said Regional Chair Emil Kolb. “Peel residents can be assured that we will continue to protect their safety and well-being by partnering with the province to meet the demands on our system now and for the future.”
“This is good news,” said Kent Gillespie, Commissioner of Corporate Services. “The province has heard our call for equal partnership and we’re moving forward together on solutions for a system that’s definitely in need of some changes.”
To meet the needs of Peel’s aging population and the increasing severity of emergency calls, Peel also added 65 Advanced Care Paramedics (ACP) on the road. ACPs receive intensive training which allows them to provide enhanced medical intervention and perform more complex medical procedures on patients before arriving at the hospital.
Peel paramedics provide excellent pre-hospital care and are the closest thing to an emergency room outside a hospital. Peel Regional Ambulance Services responds to more than 65,000 emergency medical calls every year.