City Chooses Lansdowne Over Paramedics

 

When did it become the responsibility for the province to pay the City of Ottawa’s bills?

The province allocates money to the city for certain services and the city is expected to pay the rest of the bill.

Yet repeatedly, we hear the city asking the federal government and the province for money above and beyond what it is supposed to receive. It’s a way of shifting fiscal blame and pressuring the senior levels of government. It’s politics, not good governance.

The city is asking the province to pay for more paramedics. The province is not obligated to pay that money but in refusing, if it does, it looks as though it doesn’t care about Ottawa.

It’s at times like this, with the vital service of paramedics in trouble, that one’s blood pressure rises when you see $419 million being poured into Lansdowne or extra allocations being made to cover expenses from the wholly botched light-rail project. With that wasted money, you could fund a fleet paramedics that would rival the size of the People’s Liberation Army.


What the province should do is simply temporarily appoint a board to run the city to make changes in staff and find efficiencies to make Ottawa run much, much better. It’s not democratic but it’s also cruel to see people not receiving required emergency service.

The Lansdowne decision was reckless and careless and the paramedic situation illustrates that. That decision was made by an incompetent staff and incompetent council.

Those two bodies chose to fund Lansdowne over essential services. That’s a serious mistake and very uncaring.

Ken Gray

 

This is a release from the City of Ottawa:

 

M E M O / N O T E D E S E R V I C E

To / Destinataire Mayor and Members of Council File/N° de fichier:

From / Expéditeur Kim Ayotte, General Manager,

Emergency and Protective Services

Subject / Objet Update on Funding for Paramedic  Offload Full-Time Equivalents

Date: November 16, 2023

The purpose of this memorandum is to inform Council on the work staff has undertaken to  advocate for provincial funding of 17 paramedics to help mitigate offload delay pressures and to  provide a status update as directed by Council in advance of consideration of the 2024 Draft  Budget.

Background

On June 28, 2023, Council approved the Ottawa Paramedic Service 2024 – 2026 Investment Plan  (ACS2023-EPS-OPS-0002). As recommended in this report, Council approved that the addition  of 23 permanent full-time equivalents (FTEs) paramedics be considered in the 2024, 2025 and  2026 Draft Budgets to address growth pressures, as well as the addition of three (3) FTEs in the  2024 Draft Budget to support employee wellness and reduce operational stress injuries. Further,  a motion was passed to expedite the hiring of 14 of these paramedic FTEs as soon as feasible with the remaining balance of 12 paramedic FTEs to be considered as part of the 2024 Draft  Budget.

The report also recommended the City to seek provincial funding for an additional 17 paramedic  FTEs in the 2024, 2025 and 2026 Draft Budgets to help mitigate offload delay pressures and  reduce the number of level zero events. Council directed staff to report back as part of the 2024  budget process on the confirmation of provincial and/or local area hospital funding for the  additional 17 FTEs.

The resolution in staff’s report also called on Mayor Sutcliffe and Chair Brockington, on behalf of  Council, to continue to advocate with the Premier of Ontario, the Minister of Health, and the  hospital CEOs to outline local impacts and implement solutions to reduce offload delay and the  number of level zero events.

As Council is aware, the issues that contribute to offload delay reside with hospitals and are  outside of the control of the Ottawa Paramedic Service. However, the City has a legislated  responsibility to deliver emergency medical care to the community, within the response time  performance plan targets prescribed by the Ontario Ministry of Health and approved by Council.  The Ottawa Paramedic Service reports on the response time performance as part of their annual  report and submits the same information to the province. Therefore, staff are committed to continuing to work with the Ministry of Health and hospital partners to find solutions that ensure  residents are receiving the best possible care.

Funding Request Update

The Ministry of Health funds 50 per cent of land ambulance operations, 100 per cent of the  Communications Centre, as well as 100 per cent of the Dedicated Offload Nursing Program,  which dedicates a nursing resource to each hospital emergency department to reduce paramedic offload delay. The Ottawa Paramedic Service and the Ottawa Hospital have been advocating for the province to increase Dedicated Offload Nursing Program (DONP) funding to help reduce offload delay. In 2023, the province increased DONP funding from $1.5M to $2.5M.  Unfortunately, hospitals have had difficulty staffing the DONP and often, there is no dedicated  offload nurse available.

Welcome To Hum-Drum Ottawa: READER

Since June, the Paramedic Chief, staff in Emergency and Protective Services department and the  Mayor’s Office have been meeting monthly with the Ontario Minister of Health’s Chief of Staff and  The Ottawa Hospital CEO to identify solutions to reduce offload delay and level zero events.  Resolving the offload delay issue in emergency departments is critical to eliminating level zero  events and improving service delivery, response times and patient outcomes.

This summer, the Ottawa Hospital submitted a request to the Ministry of Health for an additional  $4.5 million to hire more nurses and add more beds to the offload nurse program. This funding  would cover the costs to staff 12 new beds at the Civic Hospital, 12 at the General Hospital, eight  at the Queensway Carleton Hospital and four at l’Hôpital Montfort. The Ottawa Hospital asserts  that the additional $4.5M will reduce offload delay and make redundant the Ottawa Paramedic  Service request for an additional 17 FTEs. The Ottawa Hospital has not yet received confirmation  of Provincial funding for this initiative.

Further, the Ministry of Health continues to expand patient care models, giving paramedics the  flexibility to treat patients and have them stay at home, take them to a more appropriate care  centre, or treat and refer them to another care provider. However, despite these initiatives and  increased DONP funding, the Ottawa Paramedic Service continues to experience significant  offload delay at local hospitals, increased level zero events and eroding response times.

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Currently, the year to date (YTD) 90th percentile offload time for the four local hospitals exceeds  two hours forty minutes. Comparatively, the 2022 YTD was slightly lower at two hours thirty seven minutes. Unfortunately, offload delay time at hospital continue to persist despite the  increased investments.

Draft Budget 2024

The 50/50 shared funding model between the City of Ottawa and Province is predicated on a  healthcare system that does not require the municipality to fund care within the hospital. As  detailed in the Ottawa Paramedic Service 2024 – 2026 Investment Plan, offload delay requires  hospital and provincial intervention, and 100 per cent provincial funding is required for the 17  FTEs proposed by the Ottawa Paramedic Service in this budget cycle (or the resolution of offload  delay).

Given that the province has received, but has not yet confirmed, the Ottawa Hospital’s funding  request the Draft Budget 2024 does not include the offload delay pressures (an estimated  operating budget requirement of $2,080,000, and the purchase of one emergency response  vehicle with an estimated capital budget requirement of $165,000 and operating budget of  $56,000).

Staff and the Mayor will continue to engage with the province and hospital partners to request  that funding is available to address the persistent hospital offload delay issue. The city will  continue to discuss all options including 100 per cent funding for 17 FTEs in each remaining year  of this Term of Council to address offload delay and reduce the burden on Ottawa taxpayers. Staff will report back in future budget cycles if provincial funding can be secured for FTEs to  address offload delay in 2025 or 2026 and will also report back on service delivery impacts and  overall performance as part of its annual report. Staff will also continue to advocate with the  Premier of Ontario, Minister of Health and local hospital leadership to find solutions for mitigating  the impact of hospital offload delay.

Respectfully,

Kim Ayotte

General Manager

Emergency and Protective Services

c.c: Pierre Poirier, Chief, Ottawa Paramedic Service

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1 Response

  1. Ron Benn says:

    Dear Council, I have found a source of the $2ish million that staff are seeking (see page 3, third paragraph) to fund – I am not sure what, but who am I to question such a long, tedious for the most part whiny memo. Take it from the $10 million you just set aside to get further information on OSEG’s proposal for Lansdowne 2.0. After all, $8 million will get you pretty much the same result – no valid business case for a $420ish million investment in a shiny, but profitable to OSEG, toy.

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