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Region to wait and see about potential paramedic merger

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

Uncertainty is the name of the game as the regional representatives are unsure about a potential merger of Ontario paramedic services.

With speculation running rampant, Durham’s regional chair and chief of paramedic services have both received little information about the potential amalgamation of paramedic services in Ontario.

“We haven’t really heard anything other than what’s been in the news,” Durham Paramedic Services Chief Troy Cheseboro told The Oshawa Express.

The Ontario government is reportedly planning to merge the province’s 59 municipal and local paramedic services into 10 regional providers.

Cheseboro told The Express he can’t provide much comment because his service hasn’t received any official notice from the province as to what the potential merger is.

“We don’t know how it will play out,” he says.

“[It’s been] indicated that there will be more frontline paramedics… but we don’t know how that translates over to us as well.”

Cheseboro says to his knowledge there’s been no talks between the region and the province regarding the potential merger, but there’s been no direct conversation between himself and the province.

“Without knowing what the government’s proposing, I don’t know whether there will be concerns or if there will be elated joy,” he says. “It could be beneficial, right? I mean, who knows?”

Regional chair John Henry told The Express, “For us not knowing what the intent of the provincial government is [causes] us some challenges.”

He says while the potential merger has been reported on, there have been no details, and “the devil’s in the details.”

“So we don’t know what’s happening yet, and we don’t know when it’s going to happen,” explains Henry.

He points out Durham Region is unique as paramedic services covers an area half the size of P.E.I., and the region did increase the number of paramedics in the 2019 budget.

Henry says while the region isn’t entirely sure what the province is contemplating, there are always opportunities for improvement.

“I think every municipality in Ontario looks at that every year throughout the budget process and throughout the year as well,” he adds. “So we’ll look through the details and see where the province is going and then we can adapt or change, and do what we can to continue to meet the needs of the residents who we touch each and everyday.”