Local Press Releases

Liberals ignore local solution to fix EMS dispatch system

June 13, 2012

QUEEN’S PARK – Today, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris called out the Minister of Health on her failure to properly address serious problems with EMS dispatching throughout Waterloo Region.

Regional Chair Ken Seiling sent a letter to Health Minister Deb Matthews four months ago, calling on her to “entertain discussions” about a council-endorsed recommendation, presented by former police chief Larry Gravill, to bring all emergency dispatching centres under one roof.

Instead of addressing Seiling’s concerns, the Minister sent a token letter touting her emergency dispatching pilot project, which, Regional EMS Director John Prno said “does nothing for speeding up the ambulance response.”

In her response to Harris’s question today during question period, Matthews ruled out the Region’s recommendation.

“This is yet again another Toronto-knows-best solution to a regional issue,” Harris said. “Our local municipalities, police officers, fire fighters and paramedics are all ready to take action, but the Health Minister continues to block any real progress.”

“Under her leadership we’ve witnessed one disaster after another in the Ministry of Health,” Harris said. “Shutting out local experts and health professional in favour Toronto bureaucrats and political staffers doesn’t make sense. People on the ground in Waterloo Region understand the challenges in our community much better.”

During Question Period today, MPP Harris asked the following questions:

First Question: Minister, it’s nice to see you’ve finally decided to reply to the Region of Waterloo’s letter about emergency dispatching … after I raised the issue last week in this House. Unfortunately, your letter fails to properly address the issue at hand.

Minister, Regional Chair Ken Seiling wrote to you four months ago, asking for your help to implement a local solution to significantly improve EMS response times throughout Waterloo Region.

Instead of addressing his concerns, you sent him a token letter to tout your Ministry’s dispatching pilot project – which Waterloo Region EMS Director John Prno said – quote – “does nothing for speeding up the ambulance response.”

Minister, how can the people of Waterloo Region take you seriously when the only solution you can propose doesn’t even improve ambulance response times?

Second question: Speaker, our local municipalities, police officers, fire fighters and paramedics are all willing to work together now to improve emergency response times. The only thing that’s standing in their way is you.

Mr. Seiling indicated very clearly in his letter that the Region supports former police chief Larry Gravill’s recommendation to bring all emergency dispatching centres under one roof. But your letter doesn’t even address this recommendation.

Minister, I know meeting with me personally to discuss this issue wasn’t a priority. You’d rather send an army of your staffers to obscure the issue. But would you, at least, have the courtesy to personally meet with Regional officials pleading for your help? Yes or no.