The County could be getting up to four additional community paramedics thanks to a three-year funding boost from the Ministry of Long-Term Care.
Department of emergency services director, Tim Waite, told County council Jan. 29 that the ministry seeks to expand the program. It wants to address the rising demand in the long-term care sector and help those waiting for beds.
To achieve this, the ministry proposed the funding and asked the County to submit a budget and proposal.
“This is really good news,” Coun. Andrea Roberts said. “Especially in an area like ours, a rural area, where transportation is an issue. The community paramedic program is a great way to get the service to the people as opposed to people having to get to the service.”
The program, which began in Haliburton County in 2017, does safety checks on at-risk people, providing weekly or monthly care. The new positions would be offered as temporary contracts completely funded by the province.
Waite said the province is processing the application and there is no guarantee yet the municipality will get the dollars. Roberts asked about the logistics of the proposal and handling the extra staff. Waite noted there is an additional vehicle in this year’s County budget but there may be an additional department staff person needed to facilitate the new paramedics.
Warden Liz Danielsen said Waite should do a deeper drive to ensure there will not be any limitations on what work the paramedics can do. She added based on a presentation she attended at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference, the province is considering community paramedicine seriously.
“It’s good to see that they’re putting funding in place for it,” she said.
Coun. Dave Burton asked what might happen at the end of the three years, raising the possibility that the municipality might have to then cover the costs.
“The hopes would be after three years they see it’s successful and they want to continue it,” Waite responded. “There is the risk that at that time, the funding could discontinue.”
He added there is language in the provincial collective agreement to lay off the individuals at the end of the term.
Council voted to receive the report as information. A further report will come to council if the province approves the initiative.
Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander