PETERBOROUGH, ON –/COMMUNITYWIRE/– As the population in Peterborough County grows this summer season, CUPE Local 4911 is concerned that the community is at risk of calling 911 and not having an ambulance arrive on time — or at all.
Incidents of down-staffing ambulances, where a paramedics’ shift is not staffed, is becoming the norm for Peterborough County-City Paramedic Services (PCCP).
This has led to fewer ambulances on the road than is required, and situations where paramedic crews are forced into overtime at the end of their shift, as they can’t leave the hospital without handing over care to the emergency room. Paramedics in Peterborough are regularly expected to work 13 to 14 hours a day.
This has created a dangerous precedent for our community, leaving those in dire circumstances with longer wait times to be picked up and brought to a hospital.
“The paramedics sector across Ontario is facing a staffing crisis in healthcare,” Nathalie Waters, President of CUPE Local 4911 and a frontline paramedic said. “CUPE Local 4911 is calling on Peterborough Paramedics to improve working conditions to make Peterborough a desirable destination for new recruits. With a staffing shortfall across the province, the city of Peterborough will need to improve working conditions for paramedics, not make them worse.”
In a report analyzing the operations of Peterborough County-City Paramedics Services, given to Peterborough County Council on June 7, time spent at the hospital for our community’s urgent calls has increased from just over 33 minutes in 2020 to over 42 minutes in 2022.
“The Peterborough County-City Paramedic Services relies on part-time paramedics to keep the service functioning,” Waters said, “and the majority of Peterborough County-City paramedics that work part-time also work for other services, having one or two extra jobs to make ends meet.”
In 2021, call volumes jumped by 12.8 per cent in Peterborough County. The demand for paramedics’ services across Ontario rose an average of 4 per cent annually between 2010 and 2019.
Shannon Carranco, CUPE Communications