TORONTO - The planned privatization of Ontario’s air ambulance
services is a disgusting insult to the 80 highly-trained paramedics
and related staff who save lives on a daily basis, their union says.
“When your loved one is dying, these men and women are the angels
of mercy who hold the last hope of staving off death,” said Leah
Casselman, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.
“To privatize their work, and thereby strip them of their wages,
their benefits, their health and safety protections, their pensions,
and their union protection, is a disgusting slap in the face. [Health
Minister] Elizabeth Witmer ought to be ashamed of herself.”
Ministry of Health officials have been meeting with paramedics this
week to tell them they have one week to decide if they will resign or
accept a job offer from the successful bidder. Some have already opted
“I’ve already signed the severance package and I’ve told them
I’m leaving,” said Darryl Taylor, a paramedic for 15 years and
unit steward for OPSEU Local 628 at the Sudbury air ambulance base.
While the union estimates the government will pay out over $1
million in severance pay to paramedics, the province has given no
rationale for this latest privatization, said Taylor.
“Why change something that has been working?” he said. “The
last time there was a change in air carriers was in 1988, when we had
four people, including two paramedics, killed in the crash of Voyageur
Airlines’ first flight.
“We don’t relish the idea of changing the system just for the
sake of a dangerous scheme that puts private profit over public safety
and the safety of paramedics.”
The Ministry of Health maintains emergency air ambulances bases in
Thunder Bay, Timmins, Toronto, Sioux Lookout, and Sudbury.
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For more information: Darryl Taylor 705-677-7416 (cell)