KENORA, Ont. – Kenora District paramedics are urging the Kenora District Services Board (KDSB) to protect ambulance services instead of threatening service cuts that will jeopardize the lives of northern residents. .
“The key issue is the lack of appropriate funding for northern communities,” said Keith Hunt, president of CUPE 5911. “Municipalities are entitled to 50 per cent of the costs for emergency health services from the Ontario government, but so far we’re getting closer to 30 per cent – we should be focussing our attention on obtaining full funding instead of looking at cutbacks.”
The paramedics, who are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), are responding to the KDSB’s recent proposal to cut Code 1 and 2 land ambulance services, to achieve a zero increase in costs for 2006. While Code 1 and Code 2 calls are not the highest priority, they can still often be associated with high risk in terms of health fragility and emergency level, particularly in remote, northern communities. Code 1 calls are deferrable, if an ambulance is on a higher priority call, while Code 2 calls are scheduled/pre-arranged calls.
“Most of the Code 2 calls that we respond to are for patients who are in Code 3 and 4 emergency situations,” said Hunt. “Emergency patients from remote northern areas, who require air ambulances to be transported to larger northern communities, have to pre-arrange transportation from the airport and are therefore classified as a Code 2. If the patients were from non-remote northern communities, these calls would be classified as Code 3 or 4 emergency calls.”
The paramedics provide ambulance services to communities throughout the KDSB service area, covering a vast territory that stretches from west of the English River to the Manitoba boarder, including the communities of Ignace, Sioux Lookout, Dryden, Red Lake, Pickle Lake, Ear Falls, Sioux Narrows, Nestor Falls and Kenora.
“We are urging local politicians and board members of the KDSB to show leadership and protect services in our communities by demanding full funding from the provincial government and supporting ambulance services in the North,” said Hunt. “We should be protecting and enhancing our services, not finding ways to de-code and reduce essential services.”
For further information, please contact:
CUPE Local 5911
CUPE National Representative