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.