General News

Residents protest Peel Paramedics Divisional Model

January 17, 2019   ·   0 Comments


An information session was held by Paramedics Chief Peter Dundas, Commissioner for Health Services Nancy Polsinelli, and various paramedics on Saturday, Jan 12 for anxious Caledon residents on the changes to Peel Region’s paramedic deployment.

Outside, other members of the Caledon community concerned with the adoption of the divisional model across Peel stood outside in -6°weather to protest a campaign which they feel is misleading and frankly dangerous to those living in the Town of Caledon.

Dressed in yellow vests on top of heavy winter coats, and holding home-made signs, these concerned and outraged members of our community decided to take proactive measures to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with a plan they feel “has so many open-ended questions” and is about “saving money, not lives.” Their concerns, supported by the paramedic’s union, is that the marked departure of community-based paramedics will create a potentially dangerous coverage issue, leaving a large area of the municipality uncovered. Of particular concern is what will happen during the morning shift changes when, as the union states, “we have few resources to manage call demand. Our view is that there is always risk but choosing to take on this risk without a plan for the future is irresponsible.”

In a flyer entitled “Caring for Caledon”, the union states that as of Monday Jan. 14th, “Caledon will get coverage [during this shift change] if:

• {If there are} no more than two 911 calls between 5:30am and 6am in Brampton

• No paramedics need assistance with transporting a patient

• No higher priority posts in Mississauga or Brampton

This is just one in a series of information sessions being held in Caledon by officials at the Region of Peel. Many of the protesters who attended earlier sessions were only further perplexed by the “information” they were being given, and have subsequently banded together to make their views known.

“The first we heard about it was six months ago,” said Bolton resident Cathy Beards, who had attended a session the week before held at the Bolton Community Centre for Recreation and Wellness before leaving in disgust. “It seemed like they were trying to slide it right past us. They had all these ads saying ‘it’s not true, it’s not true’, but it absolutely is true,” she said, commenting on the concerns for the lack of coverage and longer response times with the implementation of this new plan. Right now I live next to an EMS station, but to get to Bolton from Fern Forest, it’s what, 45 minutes? If I have a heart attack in the middle of a shift change, I’m not going to survive. We’re too vast, we’re too huge! We’re an ageing population…They’ve got a brand-new station here, and it’s empty.”

Beards also expressed concern about the new paramedics unfamiliar with the Caledon area being deployed from Brampton. “GPS doesn’t always work out here, and if you don’t know where you’re going, if you don’t know the area…”

This group of protestors came together first through word of mouth, and then Facebook, where they shared their concerns and opinions and decided to take action. With their ultimate goal being to keep EMS services in Caledon in the stand-alone model It was before, these concerned citizens hope to raise the alarm. “I don’t understand how you can cover this whole area [with two ambulances],” said protestor Cristina Zamprero. “It seems like there are holes in the plan. The problem is It’s very confusing what they’re saying. It’s very unclear, and no one is answering questions.” It should be noted that protestors were not allowed inside the Community Centre to voice their concerns to Chief Peter Dundas, and neither did Dundas venture outside to speak with them.

John Rutter came with sign in hand and his Newfoundland dog, Sadie. “Whatever’s an issue with her master, she takes it on as well,” said Rutter, as Sadie sat by his side stoically. “We as Canadians are too passive and accepting. Maybe this will be the start of ‘maybe I don’t agree.’”

The next information session on this issue will be held at 10am Saturday Jan. 19th at the Bolton library.



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