OPA Response: EMS Vision Ontario 2050
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Toronto - April 18, 2019
The Ontario Paramedic Association has been working diligently to address issues surrounding a new monumental proposal that was brought forward to regionalize paramedicine without proper stakeholder consultation.
On Monday April 15th, a document was released indicating the intent of the Ministry of Health - Emergency Health Services Branch (MOH-EHSB) to regionalize Ontario's 52 paramedic services, 6 First Nations emergency providers and Ornge as well as their 22 Central Ambulance Communications Centres into 10 regional health hubs. This new information came as a complete shock to paramedics across the province and disappointingly distressed many Paramedic Communications Officers during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.
In the days following, the OPA feels it is necessary to refute some of the misinformation that has spread as well as indicate how the OPA is viewing these developments.
1) Some have asked whether the OPA was behind EMS Vision - Ontario 2050. The answer is emphatically no; this is a document executed by Bob DeShane as an individual with no input or guidance by the OPA. Any suggestion to the contrary is categorically false. The OPA initiated an investigation that revealed the following evidence:
- An individual named Bob DeShane had engaged the government in private consultations. This individual is reported to have worked with the “Ontario Ambulance Owners” Association and was part of a 1990's private operator known as “Rural Metro”. He has never consulted with the OPA and has corroborated this himself. The OPA is deeply concerned that our name was included in this report, having never participated in consultation. As a collaborator of Mr. DeShane, the consulting firm “Grosso McCarthy Inc”, is also listed under the Office of the Integrity Commissioner as a lobby firm for Medavie EMS, who operate privatized paramedic systems. Any reference to the OPA having prior knowledge or any relation existing between the OPA and Bob DeShane, or the OPA and Grosso McCarthy Inc, is entirely fabricated and unethical.
- “EMS Vision Ontario 2050” is an uncomfortably close replica of a report out of Washington DC titled “EMS Agenda 2050”. This report does not reflect nor take into consideration our current paramedicine model in Ontario. The original document had been released through www.EMSAgenda2050.org. This nearly identical, unproven, speculative and poorly researched report released May 01, 2018 was surreptitiously prepared for the Ontario Ministry of Health on January 26, 2019, with components being publicly cited on April 15, 2019. We have placed a copy of the full report titled “EMS Agenda 2050” on our server. Further to our first point, the OPA did not consult on either of these reports and any such allegation is entirely fabricated and unethical.
2) Some have questioned the OPA's budget reaction on April 11, 2019. As you may know, the Ontario Government released Budget 2019 that merely stated it will protect paramedic mental health, streamline ambulance dispatching and expand alternate destinations for paramedics. The budget also indicated $1.4B enhanced funding that could clearly resolve “hallway healthcare”. These were items that paramedics could logically support and encourage the government to legislate quickly. A budget reaction may have caught some members off-guard, but it must be noted that thousands of professional associations release these annually at the federal, provincial and municipal level. We deemed it important to highlight pertinent information in the budget for our members and is in no way a sign of partisan support, nor does it endorse the budget as a whole. The OPA is strictly non-partisan.
3) In order to protect our patients and our profession, the current report must be rejected as the basis for any future direction or decisions.
Following all of this, on April 17, 2019, the OPA had a meeting with Minister Elliott and her office. We credit her for reaching out and understanding that paramedics across the province have serious concerns. We were assured, that consultations would commence as soon as possible and that all stakeholders would be involved: municipalities, unions, frontline workers, and more. No decisions have been made, and none will be made until consultations take place.
To our members, non-members, and all other paramedic stakeholders, the OPA is equally as concerned about this regionalization model as you. Since the 2001 download, Ontario Paramedics have spent 18 years building an extraordinary system. Our frontlines have attracted and developed an incredible talent pool who are entrusted with the lives of 1.1 million Ontarians each and every year. Millions of people across this province have better lives because of the amazing work you do and we ask you to continue your mindfulness towards one another and your professionalism towards your patients. In order to better enable our mayors, councils, public servants and community members to defend paramedicine, it is important to keep providing the same high-quality local care that they currently expect. Paramedics are evidence-based, trusted, professional, and compassionate.
The OPA has always and will always unequivocally support our members, advocate for our patients and represent the professional interests of this amazing profession. We are not your labour union, nor do we purport to be. The unions play an important role in ensuring paramedics are defended on a daily basis. We will not apologize however, for giving another voice to all paramedics who sacrifice so much of themselves in giving to the community. This is a time to stand as one resilient group of colleagues.
On behalf of the Ontario Paramedic Association Board of Directors.