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MEDIA RELEASE - Paramedics Essential to Ontario's Frontlines

Date: 2020-04-28


Toronto, ON - It was recently announced that frontline workers would receive a “pandemic premium” for the next 16 weeks in light of COVID-19. The list of eligible frontline workers released on Friday April 24 did not include paramedics. The Ontario Paramedic Association (OPA) is concerned this decision sends the wrong message to frontline healthcare workers that were excluded from the list.


As allied partners to Public Health and integral members to the healthcare system, Ontarians have come to trust that a paramedic will respond whenever they experience a medical emergency, even when it means putting their own safety at risk. This reliability, courage, and compassion has become the hallmark of paramedicine in Ontario, especially during the province's united fight against COVID-19.


Paramedics inherently face risks such as SARS, Ebola and now COVID-19. This is supported by the prevalence of occupational injuries, critical injuries, PTSD, and suicide in paramedicine as well as the introduction of the Psychological Standard for Paramedic Health and Safety (CSA Z1003.1). Paramedics, like many frontline healthcare workers, are currently facing unprecedented challenges, putting themselves and their families at risk. Yet paramedics are reliably showing up to fight an invisible enemy on the frontlines and are going above the call of duty to mitigate this health crisis.


Paramedics have expressed concerns with being left out of recent government announcements. Their concerns have highlighted how imperative it is that government address how essential paramedics are in the province by exploring a permanent solution that properly addresses the responsibility and recognition that paramedics will continue to endure long after COVID-19. Temporary measures do not fully address the inherent risk associated with paramedicine. These occupational hazards will not end when we “flatten the curve”.


The OPA will advocate on behalf of its members and move forward discussions to have paramedics permanently recognized as essential workers. It has become abundantly clear that the public and our allied healthcare partners agree that paramedics should be regarded as essential frontline healthcare professionals, not just during COVID-19.


While paramedics continue to professionally serve 1.75 million patients in the face of all hazards, the OPA will maintain our mandate of patient advocacy and furthering the paramedic profession.


ADDENDUM - Paramedics Essential to Ontario's Frontlines

2020-04-28 (2100hrs)

The OPA would like to thank Premier Doug Ford, Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy, as well as Minister Christine Elliott for their acknowledgement and inclusion of additional healthcare disciplines in recognizing those who face considerable risk on the frontlines of COVID-19. Our health care system is rooted in the fact that many different skilled and dedicated professionals work in tandem to provide the best care possible.

 

We thank the government for recognizing the dedication of Ontario paramedics on the frontlines of the current pandemic. Furthermore, this measure highlights how paramedics are essential, not only to the Ontario health care system but also to the patients and general public we serve daily, long after COVID-19. We urge the government to continue to look at transformational measures to fully address the inherent risk and occupational hazards associated with paramedicine.

 

On behalf of our thousands of members who demonstrate reliability, courage, and compassion, we want to say “thank-you” while paramedics can be depended on to continue to serve the great communities and people of Ontario.



With respect and sincerity,


Darryl Wilton

President  

Ontario Paramedic Association

439 University Ave (5th Floor)

Toronto, ON  M5G 1Y8

1-888-OPA-LINE

OntarioParamedic.ca


Greg Kung

Director of Policy & Government Relations   

Ontario Paramedic Association

439 University Ave (5th Floor)

Toronto, ON  M5G 1Y8

1-888-OPA-LINE

OntarioParamedic.ca