Ontario kicks in $38M to fund Ottawa ambulances
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Ottawa's land ambulance service received a $38 million boost for 2013 from the province Monday as the Ottawa Paramedic Service grapples with more calls relating to an aging population.
MPP Bob Chiarelli, who is also Ontario's Energy Minister, made the announcement at the Queensway Carleton Hospital in his riding of Ottawa-West Nepean.
The $38,541,000 in provincial funding marks an increase of more than $2.7 million from 2012, or 7.8 per cent.
Anthony Di Monte, chief of Ottawa's paramedics, said the nearly eight per cent increase is "significant" for a service that is already under pressure.
"We have a $70 million operating budget. If you took $3 million dollars away, that's a significant cut. It's not like a small cut off the top," the chief said after the announcement, flanked by two uniformed paramedics.
"More than 85 per cent of my budget is salary and the rest is provisions of equipment that are given to patients and there's very little maneuvering room. So without that announcement we would be in dire straits."
The money will be divided into the Ottawa Paramedic Service's operating budget. The municipality and the province each contribute 50 per cent of funding to the land ambulance service.
Di Monte said he noticed an increase in call volume of about 12 per cent last year, which he attributes to an aging demographic.
"Patients 55 and older make two thirds of our call volume," he said.