A separate paramedic service will improve the wait time for critical services in emergency situations
Winnipeg mayoral candidate Robert Falcon Ouellette promised to create a stand-alone paramedic service if elected as Winnipeg’s next Mayor.
‘Meeting the city’s response time target is important for patient outcomes,’ said Ouellette’ For heart attack, stroke and trauma patients, injuries minutes count. You want an ambulance as quickly as possible to take you where you need to go as soon as possible.’
As of now, when a call comes into 911, paramedics and fire are usually both dispatched. This model can tie up valuable resources in a city already facing a shortage of essential care workers. Most major cities across Canada have dedicated services that respond to specific emergencies, a model that could also be adapted to the city of Winnipeg.
Ouellette acknowledges that the transition to a separate paramedic entity would require a more permanent financial commitment from the provincial government to fund services. The agreement with the city expired in 2017, and since then, the province has provided funding through annual funding letters. Providing paramedic services is a joint responsibility between the province and city, which has been in effect since 1997.
Ouellette acknowledges that the province and city have been working on an agreement, but the process has its delays. He would like to see the new Mayor and council review any proposed agreement put forth by the province.
Ouellette would also see the expansion of the city’s Community Emergency Paramedics in the Community (EPIC) program. The program was created a decade ago to address some of the community’s needs without diverting resources from paramedics responding to 911 calls.
‘Paramedics know who the frequent 911 callers are and could work to determine what resources may be available to help them,’ said Ouellette. ‘Referring them to community health resources, which could include home care and mental health supports.’
Winnipeggers head to the polls on October 26 to elect their next Mayor and new city council.