Defend Public Healthcare: Paramedic Services in Canada: Structure, Privatization, Unionization and other issues

Governance and Funding:  While police and fire services are usually municipal services, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) are typically controlled by provincial governments.  In Ontario, regional municipal governments have responsibility for delivering and funding EMS.  But even in Ontario the province plays a key role, strictly regulating EMS, providing funding for 50% of the approved land ...

Defending Public Healthcare: Patient Transfer Changes Continue — Boon or Bust for EMS?

Another LHIN-based initiative to restructure  “non-urgent patient transfers” is underway. Non-urgent transfers are ambulance-like transfers for patients from hospital to hospital, from hospital to long-term care, or from hospital to home. While the cost of these transfers often simply come out of the hospital budget, austerity has made this more difficult.   The latest restructuring project is in ...

Defending Public Healthcare: Ambulance hospital delays improve – but we are still far behind

Ambulances are spending a little less of their time offloading patients according to the Ontario Municipal Benchmark Initiative (OMBI) public report for 2012.  That is positive: time spent offloading patients to overcrowded hospitals could otherwise be spent responding more quickly to 911 emergency calls.  Nevertheless, we remain far behind where we were a few years ...

Defending Public Healthcare: Patent transfer recommendations remains secret

The provincial Ombudsman has followed up on his damning report on the privatized, non-ambulance patient transfer industry.   The Mike Harris Progressive Conservative government privatized the patient transfer industry at the turn of the century, moving the work over from Emergency Medical Services (ambulance services).    Two years ago, however, the Ombudsman and the CBC ...

Defending Public Healthcare: Non-ambulance corporations to take over more EMS work?

The Minister of Health and LTC has strongly endorsed the restructuring of patient transfer industry in the South West LHIN.  This may set a new model for the private corporations that often move patients between health care facilities in vehicles that look, for all the world, like ambulances — but are not.   For the ...

Defending Public Healthcare: Ambulances and Public Health get cash while other sectors starve

From time to time there are rumors that EMS (ambulance services) and municipal public health services may move over to the tender mercies of the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), which fund hospitals, home care, long term care, and other health services. Fortunately– for these services — that has not happened yet.   The government ...

Defending Public Healthcare: Admitting the price of privatization (when it all goes bad)

ORNGE providing a vital service. Photo: Jason Edward Scott Bain The Globe and Mail kindly lobbed a few questions for the disgraced, former boss of ORNGE, Chris Mazza to swat away.  His responses, published in this weekend’s edition, suggest the government was fully onside with his vision — until the fur hit the fan. He said ...

Defending Public Healthcare: Ambulances spending 21% more time in hospitals

The new Ontario Municipal Benchmarking Initiative public report  indicates that ambulances (and by extension paramedics) are spending more and more time in hospitals.  For the thirteen (mostly large) Ontario communities included, the median percentage of time ambulances spend in hospitals has increased from 15.5% in 2009, to 17.8% in 2010, to 18.7% in 2011. That’s ...

Defending Public Healthcare: ORNGE: no signs of learning

Health Minister Deb Matthews sticks to her guns alright, spinning a tale at yesterday’s legislative committee  hearing suggesting she was unable to control ORNGE.  The ORNGE boss stonewalled and manipulated the numbers, she claimed. The shenanigans at ORNGE are shocking, but it takes some believing that the government could not have reined them in if ...