Enhancements to paramedic services up in the air
Enhancements to the Leeds Grenville Paramedic Service are on hold until more information becomes available about provincial funding cuts. (Drew Hosick, myprescottnow.com staff)
Provincial downloading has left Leeds Grenville Paramedic Service enhancements in limbo. Joint Services approved $1.6 million more this year for the service, to hire 8 full-time paramedics and increase ambulance coverage in North Grenville and Gananoque.
The Ontario Government plans to reduce 59 ambulance services to 10.
Paramedic Chief Chris Lloyd says there’s been no movement on the restructuring. He noted the government announced a budget freeze two weeks ago, based on 2018 levels. The province and municipalities split the cost of paramedic services 50/50.
Lloyd says if this year’s funding is based on the 2018 budget, the counties could be on the hook for the full $1.6 million.
Lloyd says 3 new paramedics have already been hired and the other 5 positions were filled on contract. He noted the plan was to implement 5 more advanced care paramedics come October. Lloyd says the enhancements haven’t been cancelled, but everything is under review. He will be presenting a report to Joint Services on July 10.
Lloyd says the enhancements are necessary to maintain response times. He noted paramedics stationed in North Grenville responded to nearly 3,000 calls last year alone.
Lloyd says the plan was to start moving forward with a new headquarters and paramedic station in Brockville this year, but it’s been put on hold until more information becomes available.