OTTAWA – The Ottawa Paramedic Service responded to 146,481 calls last year and met its council-approved and legislated response times for emergency calls in 2019.

 The city’s Community and Protective Services committee received the paramedic service’s annual report, which notes “the city is actively mitigating the increased demand by hiring more staff, using strategically placed response units, diverting patients from emergency rooms and conducting proactive home visits.”

“However, offload delays at hospital emergency rooms continue to be a challenge, with paramedics spending 53,663 hours waiting to transfer patients to local hospitals in 2019,” city staff released in a statement today (Oct. 15).

This lost time amounts to a loss of 64 paramedics, or $7.7 million annually.

“To address the root causes of crime, social disorder and ill health, the city is working with residents and stakeholders to create a Community Safety and Well-Being Plan,” staff said.

The committee approved priorities for the plan including simplifying and integrating systems, and developing strategies to address discrimination, marginalization and racism, financial security and poverty, housing, mental well-being, and gender-based violence and violence against women.

Staff anticipate presenting the plan to the committee in late 2021. 

The committee received a presentation about the COVID-19 response efforts of the city’s Human Needs Task Force and long-term care homes. The task force has worked to improve food security, support residents experiencing homelessness, invest in agencies providing social services and develop a plan to address a resurgence of COVID-19 and cold weather. In long-term cares homes, the city revised its plans to prevent and control infections, increased staff and adapted to changing directives related to visitors.

Recommendations from today’s meeting will rise to council on Wednesday, Oct. 28.

For more information on city programs and services, visit ottawa.ca or call 311 (TTY: 613-580-2401).