October 10, 2017 – Councillor Karygiannis releases Open Letter to Toronto EMS on the Escalating Paramedic Morale Crisis
TORONTO, ON – Jim Karygiannis, City Councillor for Ward 39, Scarborough-Agincourt has released an Open Letter to Toronto Paramedic Services Acting Chief, Gord McEachen, documenting what he has discovered and heard first-hand from frontline Toronto paramedics on their decreasing morale.
In 2015, Councillor Karygiannis was approached by Union Local 416 to assist with the morale problem that frontline paramedics were experiencing. Councillor Karygiannis was instrumental in passing a Motion in Toronto City Council which was supposed to address the issue. Since that time, the situation has got worse across a number of areas including, but not limited to: schedule changes, low quality uniforms and equipment, decreasing Advanced Life Support (ALS) coverage across the City.
“To learn how widespread the issue of paramedic morale was I convened four Town Hall Meetings at Toronto City Hall with front line staff and other members of the Union. I also spent four day and night shifts visiting paramedics at hospital emergency wards. I was shocked at what I discovered and heard and I am calling on Toronto EMS to fix these problems immediately,” said Councillor Karygiannis.
Following the Town Hall Meetings and the tours of paramedic shifts across Toronto, Councillor Karygiannis convened meetings with Chief Gord McEachen, Deputy City Manager Giuliana Carbone and other senior staff. Councillor Karygiannis clearly stated the deficiencies that he saw first hand and how those problems affect paramedic morale and life saving care for Torontonians.
“It is unacceptable that ALS paramedics, with the highest skill set, are forced into schedule changes that see them switch from day to night shifts with high frequency. Paramedics are fitted with low quality uniforms and they are provided with equipment that do not work. I did not see one paramedic use the City-issued stethoscope. Dozens of ALS paramedics have dropped down to lower levels or the left the Toronto service entirely after the shift changes. This directly and negatively impacts the quality of care Toronto residents receive from paramedic services,” said Councillor Karygiannis.
Underlying the many issues Councillor Karygiannis lays out in his Open Letter is the strong feeling that frontline paramedics feel that they are treated as if they are a world apart from EMS management. There is a nearly ten to one ratio of EMS management to frontline paramedic staff. Regrettably, several paramedic staff feared speaking to their experiences due to threats of reproach.
“Frontline paramedics already face unbearable schedule changes, the inability to collect the lieu time salaries they are owed, and daily problems fulfilling the basic functions of their jobs due to problems with the Kronos scheduling system. On top of that, they fear speaking out. This culture of fear must end,” said Councillor Karygiannis.
“It is my desire to continue to work proactively with EMS Management to address these issues but the time is urgent. Our frontline paramedics deserve no less than our full support and our full commitment to improve their morale. The City must fulfill our duty to care for our paramedics in the same way that paramedics care for our most vulnerable Toronto residents every day,” said Councillor Karygiannis. “It has to be noted that Acting Chief Gord McEachen has been very supportive during this work” concluded Councillor Karygiannis.
Please find the attached the Open Letter that Councillor Karygiannis sent this morning to EMS Chief Gord McEachen and the Deputy City Manager.
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