Ontario Enhancing Emergency Services Across the Province

Ontario is enhancing and modernizing its emergency health services system to provide people with increased flexibility and more options for medical transportation and paramedic services, to ensure they are receiving the right care when they need it.

The province is investing in a new medical dispatch system that will help triage and prioritize 911 calls for ambulance services. This new system – which is expected to be in place in the first site by March 2018 – will better prioritize calls based on patient need and redirect low acuity patients to locations other than emergency departments, in instances where it would be safe and appropriate to do so.

The province also plans to update the Ambulance Act through a transparent and inclusive consultation process, to ensure patients continue to receive the right care at the right time. The proposed changes, if passed, would enable the government to:

  • Expand the scope of paramedics to provide appropriate on-scene treatment and refer patients to non-hospital options, such as primary care and community-based care. Currently, paramedics are bound by law to transport patients to hospital facilities only. Providing more flexibility would allow patients to receive the most appropriate care while reducing unnecessary trips to emergency departments.
  • Provide funding for two pilots in interested municipalities that will enable firefighters certified as paramedics to respond to low acuity calls to treat and release or treat and refer a patient, and provide symptom relief to high acuity calls.

Once implemented, people will experience less overcrowding, shorter wait times and faster movement through the emergency system.

Emergency 911 services will continue to provide immediate response to medical emergencies and may redirect, in a timely and convenient manner, those with non-urgent needs.

Ontario is increasing access to care, reducing wait times and improving the patient experience through its Patients First Action Plan for Health Care and OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare — protecting health care today and into the future.

Quick Facts

  • Full roll out to all of the Ambulance Communications Centres across the province will take approximately 24 months to complete.
  • Ontario’s emergency health system provides around-the-clock services to 13.7 million people each year in more than 400 municipalities and Indigenous communities
  • In 2015, over one million patients were transported via land and air ambulance. Of these, only 1 per cent were the most critically ill and required immediate emergency transportation.
  • There are patients with varying degrees of severity of illness and injury whose needs could be met by accessing care outside of an emergency department or being transported with non-ambulance resources.

Additional Resources

“Our government is committed to improving and modernizing our emergency health services system. Over one million people in Ontario are transported via ambulance each year. By improving the system, we are delivering timely, high-quality care across Ontario.” Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

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