TO:                  CUPE Ontario Paramedic Workers

FROM:             Jeff van Pelt, Chair CUPE Ambulance Committee of Ontario (CACO)

DATE:              December 9, 2016

RE:                   Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) Consultation Process on “Expanding Medical Responses Discussion Paper”

On November 21, 2016 the MOHLTC issued a discussion paper entitled “Expanding Medical Responses Discussion Paper”. Stakeholders including CUPE also received a related survey. The deadline for responding to this process is December 19, 2016.

Other unions (including the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and the Ontario Professional Firefighters Association) have also received this survey. Employer groups, like the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs received a similar survey.

CACO met with CUPE staff on November 30, 2016 to begin the process of responding to the survey and consultation process. In addition, CACO met as a committee on December 1 and 2, 2016 to provide input on the survey questions and to discuss government relations avenues.

In the process, CUPE is being asked for our position on whether to allow “full-time firefighters who are also employed as paramedics with a province of Ontario certified ambulance services…to provide patient care up to the Primary Care Paramedic level in tiered response conditions”.

The paper states that the government will not require municipalities to implement this model and that if a municipality chooses this option, they are responsible for 100% of the costs associated with delivering the service. However, we also know that government policies can change and that the push to expand the fire role further into emergency medical response will not stop any time soon.

CUPE Ontario has consistently advocated for more trained paramedics working for EMS to ensure the best patient care and to improve emergency medical care response times. CUPE Ontario’s position on this hybrid fire fighter/paramedic model has always been (and continues to be) that in order to provide the best patient care, the responder to a medical call should be a trained paramedic working for a paramedic service. Any deviation from that practice would put in jeopardy the health and well-being of the patient. Additionally, it would result in increased costs incurred by the municipality.

If there are to be changes to the land ambulance service they should be in the area of increased funding and support for expanded paramedic ambulance-based services in Ontario, not through diluting the paramedic profession by identifying paramedicine as a secondary job that could be added to the duties of a fire-fighter.

Whereas the OPFFA have taken to social media as a promotion outlet for their incursion into paramedic work, CUPE does not view this as an us (paramedics) versus them (fire fighters) scenario. We encourage all Paramedics that, if posting on social media, do so cautiously. If you feel inclined to post something, make it factual and evidence based rather than confrontational.  Engaging in a “turf” war does nothing to advance emergency medical care and our paramedic profession. Rather CUPE urges all paramedic members to focus on the real issue: top quality emergency medical response provided by ambulance paramedics exclusively focused on paramedicine.

The response to the consultation and survey on behalf of all CUPE paramedics will be submitted by the December 19 deadline and co-signed by CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn and CACO Chair Jeff van Pelt. We want to ensure that CUPE speaks with one voice in this process. We are encouraging any CUPE locals with feedback suggestions to the consultation paper to not make a separate submission. Rather please forward input to CACO for inclusion in our collective response. Should your local union be approached by media seeking a CUPE response to the issue, please forward any requests to Brother Jeff van Pelt at [email protected] or (905) 404-3898.

In addition to CUPE’s evidence-based consultation submission to the government, CACO with assigned CUPE staff are developing a provincial campaign that includes communication to media, members, municipalities and substantive engagement with the provincial government.

We are also working cooperatively with other unions that represent paramedics.

We will keep you updated as new information comes available.


Jeff van Pelt

Chair CUPE Ambulance Committee of Ontario (CACO)