Local Press Releases

Deb Matthews must stop ignoring local solution to fix EMS dispatch

April 23, 2014

KITCHENER — Health Minister Deb Matthews must stop ignoring Waterloo Region’s call to improve ambulance response times by streamlining emergency dispatching services, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris said today.

“When a loved one is suffering from a heart attack or stroke, each second could be the difference between life and death. So the provincial government has the responsibility to ensure that all Ontarians have the fastest emergency response times possible,” Harris said. “Unfortunately, Deb Matthews has chosen not to co-operate with local officials who are working together to consolidate the area’s dispatching centres under one regionally operated service.”

In fact, Matthews has still not even delivered on her 2012 commitment to send a Ministry observer to take part in the region’s emergency-dispatch working group chaired by former police chief Larry Gravill. The working group is following the lead of a 2012 report authored by Gravill, which found that by bringing all dispatching centres under one roof, the Region could shave two full minutes off emergency response times.

“Regional officials, police officers, firefighters and paramedics are already taking action. But the Minister continues to stand in their way, refusing to give up control of a provincial EMS dispatching centre in Cambridge,” Harris said. “As a result of the Minister’s actions, the Region’s ambulance response times will continue to lag behind other municipalities’ with locally operated dispatching.”

The provincial government has already given the Region of Niagara the ability to operate its own emergency dispatching. As a result, it now has the fastest response times in Ontario – with dispatchers only taking one minute and 55 seconds to notify an ambulance about an emergency. By contrast, the time it takes a dispatcher to notify an ambulance in Waterloo Region is three minutes and 50 seconds.