CUPE and the Service Employees International Union have released a joint study comparing non-profit ambulance services in Ontario and for-profit services in the United States.
The study warns that American for-profit ambulance services are riddled with problems, including poor service, skyrocketing costs, fraud, staff burnout and high turnover rates. According to the report, the average cost per call billed in the U.S. was $500 vs. $200 in Ontario. Paramedics in the U.S. suffer from low pay and high stress and there is a high turnover rate.
This past year, the Harris government downloaded responsibility for ambulance services to cash-strapped municipalities. Taking advantage of this opening, for-profit providers like Rural Metro and Laidlaw are lobbying municipal officials to contract out the service.
“If municipalities go down the road of for-profit ambulance services, costs will more than double and service quality will deteriorate. Huge American corporations will haunt every car crash in Ontario waiting to pull big profits out of the service,” said Mike Dick, a paramedic from Ajax and chair of the CUPEs Ontario Council of Hospital Unions Ambulance Committee. “We will be asking municipalities not to gamble with our ambulance service. Its too important.”