Caledon FAQ

Take Action: Keep Paramedics in Caledon

Please scroll down for detailed answers with supporting documentation for the Region of Peel FAQs and Myths

On January 15, 2019, Caledon’s Community Paramedics will no longer start and finish their shifts in Caledon. Instead, they will deploy to Caledon from 1600 Bovaird Dr. East in Brampton.

You deserve the truth about your paramedic service.

We’re bringing you the truth behind these frequently asked questions about upcoming administrative changes at Peel Paramedics. The following is OPSEU 277’s response to these FAQs.

See The Region of Peel’s official page here

1. Why is this happening?

In 2006, Health Analytics was hired by the Region of Peel to conduct a review of existing facilities and cost, and to develop recommendations for improvements. Based on this review, on June 7, 2007 Chief Peter Dundas and the Regional Council brought forward a proposal for a 10-year facilities plan to the Emergency and Protective Services Committee. On June 21, 2007 Peel Regional Council as a whole endorsed a 10-year facilities plan based on shifting ambulance services from the traditional station-based model to a “divisional” reporting/satellite station model.

Click here to view the Health Analytics Report

2. So Regional Council approved this change?

No. Both the minutes of the Emergency and Protective Services Committee and the Regional Council Resolution 207-833 specifically state:

“And further, that the current Station-Based Model in Caledon be maintained”

This statement is completely in line with the recommendations from the Health Analytics report, which outlines specifically why Caledon should remain in the traditional station-based model.

3. Chief Peter Dundas had stated that Regional Council has been continually updated and approves of this change?

“That decision happened in late 2008”

At this time, we are unable to locate any public records of council supportign this statement.

During 2008, all decisions regarding the 10-year facilities plan flowed through the Emergency and Protective Services Committee first, then onto Regional Council for final approval. The dates of the 2008 EPSC meetings’ key highlights, as well as follow on council minutes, are:

January 31-2008 Cancelled
May 15 2008 Update on 10-year plan (oral) No mention of Caledon

EPSC minutes

September 4 2008 – No discussion on 10 year plan or Caledon

EPSC minutes

November – 24 2008
Two References to Caledon, one regarding co-locate options from Councillor Morrison and another from Councillor Mullin “Councillor Mullin requested staff to provide more detailed information regarding delays in ambulance service in Caledon.”

EPSC minutes

We have all reviewed all minutes of the EPSC from 2007 through 2013. We were unable to locate any reference to Changes in Caledon in any minutes until the November 7, 2013 meeting where a report was presented: “Proposed changes to Peel paramedics Service 10 year facilities plan”

At this time, Caledon’s “stand alone” stations are suddenly referred to as satellite stations.

2013 Changes to the Divisional Model Report

4. But Chief Dundas states that we continue to work closely with our Union partners and paramedics!

OPSEU 277 members and paramedics sit on the Paramedic Services “Deployment” Committee and work with the Employer to minimize the risks to the public and paramedics within the parameters of decisions made by the Region. We do not, and have never, supported this change.

5. What happened on September 13? Did council vote to move Caledon to the Divisional model?

September 13, 2018 was the last meeting Peel Regional Council had prior to the election. The Agenda for that day was 492 pages long! Within the agenda was item 8.3, a report (for information purposes only) titled “Regional Paramedic Services – Divisional Model Update”. In item 7.6, a representative from the Caledon Village Association addressed Council on concerns around this report.

Due to this report, a motion was put forward by Councillor Shaughnessy and seconded by Councilor Groves to “pause” the changes in Caledon pending further review. This motion was defeated, and we believe this was because the broader Regional Council was under the assumption that this change had already been approved by “a previous term of council”. Brampton Wards 1 and 5 councillor Grant Gibson asked for clarity on this exact question, and the above was the response of the Regional Clerk. As previously stated, at this time we are unable to locate any records of council which support this statement.

You can watch the September 13, 2018 meeting by clicking the link below: Discussion starts at the 3 hour and 44 minute mark (3:44).

6. So this was never approved by Regional Council?

On completion of the 2018 Municipal Election, this issue will have spanned over four terms of Council. On average, the weekly agenda for each Regional Council meeting is 400 pages. Council meets twice per month, and that resulted in 106, 000 pages of documents. Many of the current council members were not in office over this period. The June 21, 2007 Council Resolution #207-833 specifically states:
“And further, that the current Station-Based Model in Caledon be maintained.”

We would assume, that to change a direction of council, some type of report relating to the changes in Caledon and the rationale why would have been brought forward for a vote. At this time, we are unable to locate any record of this in the public records of Council. As Peel Region values transparency and accountability as a core value, we expect this record to exist. However, no one has brought forward such a report. The only report we have been able to locate is the Fall 2013 “Proposed Changes to the Divisional Model” report, which makes no mention of Caledon.

Read the 2013 report here

7. The Chief said Caledon will always be covered, “even if it means overtime”

Peel Paramedics will always respond to emergency calls regardless of overtime. However, overtime to “cover” an area in case of an emergency is not the same thing. This is considered forced overtime for non-emergency response. It is a violation of the Employment Standards Act, and its requirements not to interfere with periods of rest because of “inadequate business planning”.

In addition, we are taken aback by this statement. Since 2016, Peel Paramedics have experienced two suicides, two attempted suicides, and 5% of our workforce are absent due to occupational stress. A key risk factor that was identified is work-life balance and end-of-shift time management. Up until this statement appeared, we thought some progress was being made on the issue. We work 12 hour shifts on a rotating 24/7 schedule—even robots require down time for maintenance.

Finally, we are surprised that Chief Dundas, as a member of the Executive for the Paramedic Chiefs of Ontario, seems to be unaware that the exact same issue arose in Ottawa with an arbitrator ruling against the City on the issue in 2017.

8. Will the Paramedics who currently work in Caledon be the ones moved north from Brampton?

As a result of this change, an ambulance will be assigned to move north at the start of their shift. Currently, due to the way that paramedics “bid” into their spots Caledon, it is predominantly served by the most senior and experienced paramedics in the Region. This will change in January 2019. Caledon’s community paramedics, some of whom have worked exclusively in the area for over 15 years, will become part of a rotating system.

Despite global research on the positive impact of paramedics in a community setting, Peel is taking community paramedics out of the community. Chief Dundas has stated, I recognize change is hard, especially for those that have built relationships within the community.”

9. What was in the Sept 13 2018 “Information Only” report to Council?

The report indicates that:

There has been a 263% increase in calls in Caledon since 2007.

-Caledon was to remain as a stand-alone system until it warranted the implementation of a divisional model. We are unable to locate that statement in the 2007 Health Analytics report. It indicates that by this time, Caledon should have 4 stand-alone stations. This statement appears twice in the report. See the 2007 facilities map here

-The Ambulance response time is 2 min. 10 seconds SLOWER in Caledon then in Brampton.

-These response times are consistent with urban/rural responses in Dufferin, Halton, and York Regions, NONE of which operate a divisional model.

14% of Caledon’s calls are serviced by other EMS systems.

-The deployment plan is a mathematical model that attempts to predict the future based on the past.

-They “expanded” the regions’ Rapid Response Unit (RRU) into Caledon. During the day, an RRU, which was pulled out of the Brampton coverage system, has now been assigned to Caledon east, staffed by a Primary Care Paramedic. This suddenly occurred after the July Caledon enterprise articles. Opened in 2017, this “satellite” station was built at a cost of 1.6 million, and has sat virtually empty until the addition of an RRU in July 2018.

-Caledon was supposed to stay “station-based” until calls volumes increased sufficiently for it to become part of a “divisional” system, but that there are not enough calls to justify the building of a “division” in Caledon. The contradiction is rather obvious.

-Despite a 263% increase in calls, Caledon will continue to be served by the same number of Ambulances it was in 2007.

Read the Sept 13 2018 report here

10. What is a “Deployment Plan” and how is it related to response times?

Current Deployment Plan

“It’s a mathematical model that best predicts where and when 911 calls are most likely to occur. It factors in time of day, population/location, historical trends, geography and our Council-approved response time framework (mandated time targets to get to calls).”

On July 12, 2018 Peel Paramedic Service submitted an annual report to Peel Regional Council titled “Paramedic Service 2019 Response time Framework”. It outlines the response times for ALL of Peel Region and does not differentiate between Caledon/Brampton and Mississauga, and is based on the above noted statement by Chief Dundas.

Page 6 of the 2007 Health Analytics Report specifically addresses this practice:

“By choosing ambulance locations strictly in an effort to optimize response time interval statistics for the entire Region, these more rural areas would be left without consistent coverage”

2019 response time report

11. What about Valleywood?

The station in Valleywood used to be a reporting station. At some point since 2007, and we honestly do not recall exactly when, it was changed to a “satellite” station. Because the station is so close to Brampton, and it is low on the deployment coverage model, Valleywood is rarely staffed.

12. But Chief Dundas has stated, “in the new model, Caledon will be prioritized over other areas.”

Since 2005, Chief Dundas has also indicated that Caledon would always have Advanced Care Paramedic Coverage. This language has been written into the “deployment plan”.

On July 21, 2017 life long Caledon resident Henry Hackenspiel passed away while caring for his property at home. Notwithstanding the fact that the closest ambulance base is roughly nine minutes from his home, it was the Caledon Volunteer Fire Service that arrived on scene first. It should be noted that the fire station is situated directly adjacent to the newly-built Caledon ambulance base. The responding ambulance did not arrive for nearly fifteen minutes following the 911 call from Henry’s family. Regardless of Chief Dundas’ claim that Caledon will have the highest level of paramedic care available at all times, the closest advanced care paramedic that day was a Superintendent in Brampton who unfortunately was thirty minutes away. Henry’s son, Andreas, has himself been working as an Advanced Care Paramedic in the heart of Mississauga for nearly twenty years and is now questioning the efficacy of the very service he has dedicated his career to.

Andreas stated that “my father lived nearly his entire life in Caledon. He loved the area and did all he could to support the community. He was one of the founding members of Husky Injection Moulding and when it came time to move their business from Richmond Hill and expand, they chose Bolton, eventually becoming one of the largest employers in the area. My father absolutely deserved better than this.”

Henry’s family reports that over the years they have had to call an ambulance three times. The first two times a Peel crew was not available or too far away and Simcoe Paramedics had to respond. On the third occasion Peel Ambulance Service failed to meet Chief Dundas’ commitment to both a rapid response time as well as continuous Advanced Care coverage. I have been working within the “new and improved” divisional system for ten years and have personally seen failure after failure. Those failures are typically reported as statistical anomalies but for Andreas that statistic had a face and a name. Like Andreas, I have absolute confidence in the complex skills of the frontline paramedics dedicating their lives to helping those in need, but we all believe that Chief Dundas’ revamped ambulance system is proving to be terribly flawed, and an increasing number of patients are ‘falling through the cracks’ so to speak. After a cardiac arrest, a person’s (generalized) chance of survival drops by 10% for each minute that passes giving them around ten minutes to receive care. It’s a harsh topic to contemplate but every single man, woman or child in Caledon will, at one point, have ten minutes left to live. Do you really want the closest ambulance to be fifteen to thirty minutes away?

13. What are the different stations?

-A “stand alone” is a station paramedics report directly to at the start of their shift.
-A “division” is a large location where multiple shifts of paramedic crews report to at the start of their shift, and then disperse.
-A “satellite” station is a location paramedics move to after starting their shift at a “division”, similar to a community police station.

14. Are you just trying to keep the Caledon medics from having to drive further to work?

OPSEU 277 represents over 600 frontline paramedics and logistical staff, 16 of which have historically been permanently assigned to Caledon and Bolton. When this change occurs, some will drive further and some lesser distances. However, they will all remain employed.

Despite our size, the paramedic union executive is composed of unpaid frontline volunteer paramedics who are elected for a 2-year term. In addition to our mandate to serve the interests of the members as a whole, as active frontline paramedics we also have an obligation to “conduct and present oneself in such a manner so as to encourage and merit the respect of the public for members of the paramedic profession”. We entered the profession to help people in need; we do not play politics with peoples’ lives.

You deserve the truth about your paramedic service.

We’re bringing you the truth behind 11 myths about upcoming administrative changes at Peel Paramedics. The paragraphs labelled OPSEU 277 are Peel Paramedic Union’s response to the official ‘myths’ posted on the Peel Region’s website.

See The Region of Peel’s official page here

Myth 1. Paramedics are leaving Caledon.

Absolutely not. They will simply be reporting to work a station in Brampton, instead of Caledon. Paramedics will continue to cover Caledon. The same number of ambulances will be in Caledon as before. And that number will increase as the population grows.

OPSEU 277 This is a fact. Paramedics will no longer be based out of Caledon. Our Union will work with the paramedic service to ensure that paramedics are available to cover Caledon.

Myth 2. Lives will be put at risk.

Absolutely not. We save lives. We don’t – AND WON’T – risk them. Peel Paramedics deliver some of the best pre-hospital care in Canada and perhaps the world. And that isn’t ever going to change.

OPSEU 277 As frontline paramedics, our number one priority at all times is to conserve life, alleviate pain and suffering, and promote health. That is why we are reaching out to the community to talk about coverage levels. We are proud that our service leaders in pre-hospital care.

On June 25, 2015, Peel Paramedic Union President Dave Wakely presented a letter to Regional Council (minutes item 6.1) Item 2015-516 thanking them for their continued support, which has allowed us to become one of the frontline leaders in pre-hospital emergency care.
Click here >

Myth 3. Caledon is a bad place to have a heart attack.

Not true. Peel, including Caledon, is the best place in Canada to have a heart attack. Our save rates are significantly better than anywhere else.

OPSEU 277 Thanks to the dedication and commitment of our frontline members as well as the ongoing support of Peel Regional Council Peel Region, Caledon has one of the highest cardiac arrest survival rates in North America. Our STEMI bypass program (ST elevation Myocardial Infarction), in which paramedics identified the sign of an acute heart attack through the use of a 12 lead ECG., patch directly to the cardiac interventionalist at either Brampton Civic or Mississauga Trillium Hospital and transport directly to the operating room has some of the fastest “911 call to cardiac intervention” in the world.

Myth 4. The current system in Caledon is perfect.

It’s good, but it can be better with the service improvements that have already been successful in Brampton and Mississauga. Caledon residents deserve that.

OPSEU 277 Call volume in Caledon has grown 263% in the last ten years. The system is not perfect. That is why the Peel Paramedic Union is advocating for a plan that brings a divisional book on station to Caledon by 2022. Enhancements that account for this growth in call volume will ensure the residents of Caledon are covered effectively.

Myth 5. Ambulances will be responding from Brampton, not Caledon.

No. Minutes count. Ambulances will be sent to Caledon before the previous shift changes to provide seamless medical coverage for residents. Paramedics might report to work and pick up their ambulances in Brampton, but will respond to Caledon emergencies from Caledon.

OPSEU 277 That happens today, and sometimes, Brampton gets ambulances from Caledon. That is okay as a response to higher-than-forecasted volume. The plan to move ambulances out of Caledon will create a gap even when volumes are average.

Myth 6. Emergency response time will be slower starting in 2019.

No. Paramedics will be in Caledon to respond to Caledon emergencies. More paramedics will be sent to Caledon to cover ambulances assigned to calls. And more paramedics will be assigned to cover Caledon as the community grows.

OPSEU 277 The truth is, we don’t know. For large portions of the day, coverage in Caledon will be better in 2019, but sometimes it will be worse. The impact on response times depends on when the calls come in.

Myth 7. Caledon will be left empty on shift change.

There will be no gaps in ambulance coverage at shift changes. There are multiple shift start times, so that means the oncoming paramedics will be in Caledon before the paramedics ending their shifts are back at the reporting station.

OPSEU 277 The Union remains concerned that given the current demands, each morning will have a coverage gap of 17 minutes based on shift times, policies, and driving distances. This 17-minute period would be longer if call volumes or traffic conditions are worse than normal.

Myth 8. There will only be one ambulance for all of Caledon.

Not true. Caledon is prioritized in the centralized system. The same number of ambulances will serve Caledon as they do today. They will be automatically replaced by dispatch when another ambulance goes on a call.

OPSEU 277 We agree with our Employer’s response on this point; in 2019 there will be 2 ambulances, just as it was in 2007, despite a 260% increase in calls. However, we would note that high call volumes and busy ambulances mean that sometimes there will be no ambulances for Caledon. Sometimes there are no ambulances available in the whole region.

Click here >

Myth 9. Intimate knowledge of Caledon roads is critical.

All paramedics across Peel rely on directions from their dispatcher and navigational technology. No person – not even someone local – can keep up with minute-by-minute congestion and construction updates without technological help.

OPSEU 277 Think back to the last time you had trouble connecting your GPS in a rural area. We use the same GPS units. With the upcoming changes in 2019, this is not the first time the Union has had to go to the public regarding service concerns.

Myth 10. North Caledon residents won’t have any ambulance coverage at all.

Wrong. All of Caledon is prioritized in the new system, not just Bolton. Dispatch makes sure the closest ambulance is sent to each call. That might be us. Or it might be York, Simcoe or Dufferin, depending on how busy each ambulance service is in that moment.

OPSEU 277 This issue has previously been reported at town council. In 2012, Chief Peter Dundas provided an update to the Town of Caledon council entitled Paramedic Response in Caledon. This update indicated that, in many cases, Peel Paramedics themselves were not offering the same response time framework to the residents of Caledon (13:19 mins) as they were to Mississauga (11:19) and Brampton (10:48) 90% of the time. Additionally, in some cases, from York into Bolton, it averaged as high as 21 minutes.

Location Minutes
Peel 13:05
Dufferin 11:25
York 21:58
Halton 16:09
Simcoe 6:43

Click here >

Myth 11. Management never listens to paramedics.

Not true. There are many management-union-staff committees and working groups on all types of topics. Staff input is built into everything from equipment purchase decisions to deployment protocols. But like any other business, not every idea can be included in every decision.

The Union values our collaborative relationship with management and council. We are proud to stand with them on a wide range of issues. Like any other business, the workers can see how management’s decisions made with the best of intentions, can impact the customers. We see it as our role to speak not only for the workers, but also the people who we serve that do not have a seat at the table.

What is the environmental and financial costs of this change?

Caledons 2010 Environmental commitment

Is this serious?

Paramedics save lives, but we need to be there to help. On July 21, 2017, lifelong Caledon resident Henry Hackenspiel passed away while caring for his property at home despite having an ambulance station 9 minutes away. The closest ambulance was 15 minutes away, and the closest advanced care paramedic was 30 minutes away. Bringing more paramedics to work out of our community will save lives. This is as serious as it gets. Add your voice to the call for Caledon based Paramedics – JOIN THE CAMPAIGN!

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