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Hamilton should see improved paramedic service with budget boost

35 more paramedics to be hired to meet growing demand

With Hamilton’s population aging, comes an increase in the use of paramedic services.

City paramedics responded to 98,114 emergencies in 2022, up from 90,892 in 2021. In 2022, the increase in service demands was double the increase in demand from recent years.

In addition to the number of those living in the city (569,355 residents, up 6.0 per cent from 2016 to 2021), the increase in Hamilton’s aging population places added pressures on the healthcare system. Approximately 25 per cent of Hamiltonians (142,345 residents) are 60 years of age or older, an increase from 23.7 per cent based on 2016 data.

To keep up with demand, the City has increased its investments in the City’s paramedic service by 23 per cent, or $6.7 million, in 2023. The additional investments will be spent on:

The extra funding will allow the addition of 35 more full-time paramedics which will provide seven (7) more ambulances daily during peak volume periods to improve response capacity and better manage paramedic staff workload;

Other measures include:

•              Broadening the paramedic scope of practice, enabling primary care paramedics to help reduce patients’ suffering more immediately without having to wait for an advanced care paramedic or wait to be transported to the emergency department before receiving medication;

•              Further developing programs to enable paramedics to treat some patients on scene, refer patients to other care providers, or transport patients to alternative destinations, thereby reducing pressures on hospital emergency departments, where paramedics are often tied up for hours waiting for their patients to be admitted.

•              Enhancing care to vulnerable residents in their homes and reduce pressure on healthcare system;

•             Enhancing IT programs to improve performance, ensuring quick access to patient records for more coordinated, efficient care; and

•              Creating a Special Event Bike Team for faster, more efficient off-road care.

The Province provides grant funding annually to cover 50 per cent of the cost of direct land ambulance service delivery. Other activities, such as community paramedicine, dedicated offload nurse staffing and dedicated neonatal intensive care transfer services receive 100 per cent grant funding provincially. 

Additionally, City Council has approved the continuation of the Alcohol, Drug and Gambling Services and Community Mental Health Promotion Programs with municipal funds after funding had been discontinued through the Ontario Health West 2022-2023 Budget. The programs provide outpatient services to individuals experiencing mental health, addictions and/or homelessness concerns and work collaboratively with individuals to improve their well-being, while also addressing other social determinants of health.

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