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May 17, 2019 – Councillors Karygiannis and Cressy call out the Ontario Government on cuts to Emergency Medical Services

TORONTO – Jim Karygiannis, Councillor for Ward 22, Scarborough-Agincourt, and Joe Cressy, Councillor for Ward 10, Spadina-Fort York, today, held a press conference with respect to the ramifications of the Government of Ontario’s plan to freeze funding for Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Mr. Karygiannis and Mr. Cressy were joined by Mike Merriman (EMS Unit Chair for CUPE Local 416) and Eddie Mariconda (President, CUPE Local 416).

“The Ontario Government’s plan will put the people of Toronto in harm’s way. Our paramedics are already stretched to near breaking.” said Mr. Karygiannis.  “What will happen when someone dies because it took too long for paramedics to respond to the call due to these cuts?”

The Ontario Government announced that it would freeze funding for Emergency Medical Services, which amounts to a loss of $3.8 million in operating costs.

“We know that response times are key for our paramedic service, as they work tirelessly each and every day to provide life-saving care to Torontonians.” said Councillor Joe Cressy, Chair of the Board of Health. “These provincial funding cuts will mean fewer resources and longer response times across the City. They must be reversed.”

Over the past 10 years, 911 emergency medical calls have increased by an average of 4% per year. There have been no paramedics hired in the past three years.  The increase in calls and resulting stress on paramedics has resulted in a significant number of stress related illnesses.

“Despite their best efforts, paramedics can no longer keep up.” said Mike Merriman. “The pace has taken its toll.  Simply put, the demand has far exceeded the supply.”

The City of Toronto is already experiencing ambulance shortages and paramedics are facing burnout from trying to keep up with an increasing number of calls.

“We are concerned about what service levels will look like after these cuts take effect. The people of Toronto are counting on their Governments to do what is needed to ensure that whenever someone is having a medical emergency, there will be highly skilled paramedics ready to respond.” said Eddie Mariconda. “We are proud of the heroic work that the women and men of Toronto Paramedic Services do every day and we hope that they will be provided with the necessary resources to serve the people of Toronto.”