Successful review for ambulance service
By Chad Ingram
The Haliburton County Paramedics have passed their three-year service review with compliments from the health ministry.
Paramedic chief Tim Waite told members of the county’s EMS advisory committee during a Sept. 10 meeting that he was pleased with the results of the inspection, completed by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
“Very complimentary, in my opinion, an extremely successful review,” Waite told councillors.
A service review team from the ministry was first on-site in the county last October. The process includes checking that the county is meeting legislated standards regarding everything from patient care to handling of communicable diseases to ambulances and equipment. Following that initial visit and an exit interview with the review team, ministry reps then returned for an inspection in March, producing a final report in June. A staff report from Waite showed that the report commended the Haliburton County Paramedic Service for its preparation for the certification inspection; employee qualifications; training and vehicle certification.
“There’s always changes in the review, it’s not exactly the same each time,” Waite told councillors. Ambulance services must pass an inspection every three years in order for the ministry to renew their licences to operate.
“We’re good to go for another three years,” Waite said.
“It sounds like everything is in place for the next cycle,” said Dysart et al Mayor Andrea Roberts, who chairs the EMS committee. “ . . . Congratulations to you and all the staff. It’s really something the county should be proud of.”
During the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference in Ottawa in August, Premier Doug Ford promised there would be a four per cent funding increase to land ambulance services. Waite told committee members details around that remain unknown.
“I really don’t know what that means for us,” Waite said. “It’s not clear, it’s sort of a four per cent increase for ambulance, and again, I can’t really offer any more information than that, and that’s what they said, but I don’t know what it means.”
County Warden Liz Danielsen quipped that the chief shouldn’t feel bad, as she was pretty confident no one knew exactly what it meant.
“When they said increase, that sounds good to me, rather than a decrease, anyway,” Waite said. “But are we going to get four per cent more, or is that four per cent for the province, and how it’s divvied out, I don’t know.”
Land ambulance services are funded half by the province and half by municipalities.
The Ford government has also indicated it has plans to merge more than 50 ambulance services in the province into 10, but the details around that process also remain unknown. Because the county’s per household cost for ambulance is low compared to virtually all other areas of the province, county chief administrative officer Mike Rutter has said that regardless of which municipalities the county might be grouped with, its cost for land ambulances will increase.
The annual, per household cost of the ambulance service in Haliburton County is $238 per household, which is much lower than similar communities. A report from the county’s auditor shows the per household cost for ambulances in Hastings is $748, and $953 in Frontenac County.