Hospital offload delays, dispatch system modernization tackled for Peterborough paramedics

·2 min read

The Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC) has released a “partial refresh” of the 2019 EOWC Paramedic Services Situation Overview Report — highlighting the need to address hospital offload delays and modernize the dispatch system as priority recommendations.

EOWC, a non-profit organization made up of 13 heads of council from upper and single-tier municipalities across rural eastern Ontario, focused on paramedic services as a priority for 2023 in response to a growing pressure faced by paramedic services across the region.

The report features updated data for each of the 13 municipalities following the initial EOWC paramedic services situational overview report from 2019.

New five-year predictive forecasts and an updated environmental scan are included in the report, along with four recommendations based on major findings.

The report says hospital offload delays need to be fixed.

Due to increases in call volume, time-on-task, and hospital offload delay, unscheduled overtime is on the rise and paramedics are often forced to work extra-long shifts and escalating numbers of hospital emergency department arrivals frequently exceed the emergency department’s patient intake capability, leading to longer waiting times for medical assistance, the report found.

Last year, Peterborough County-City Paramedics received provincial funding to help combat the “systematic” issue of ambulance offload delays — a problem Peterborough Regional Health Centre has grappled with for years.

The report also concludes that “community paramedic programs require a provincial commitment to permanent and predictable funding.”

Additionally, it’s recommended that the dispatch system be modernized to ensure the deployment of resources appropriate to 911 response, and that community paramedicine is supported.

Increasing community college paramedic enrolment is the final priority recommendation.

“As part of the community health care sector, paramedic services carried communities throughout the pandemic,” states EOWC chair Peter Emon.

“The EOWC likes to do our homework and this report shows exactly that. We look forward to advocating for these evidence-based recommendations and working with our provincial partners to make improvements.”

As a former nurse, Peterborough County Warden and EOWC vice-chair Bonnie Clark says she is “proud to be part of finding solutions based on data.”

“This report sheds light on what needs to be done to better support our rural communities and find efficiencies in the health-care system. I look forward to continuing to advocate for improved health care systems and resource allocation,” Clark said.

The refreshed report can be accessed on the EOWC website at

EOWC advocates on behalf of nearly 800,000 residents from Peterborough County to the Quebec border.

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner