Remarks by: Gary McNamara, AMO President and Mayor, Town of Tecumseh Wednesday, September 23, 2015, 7:30 – 9:00a Caesars Coliseum Windsor, Ontario 2015 OAPC Annual General Meeting/Fall Conference

Remarks by:
Gary McNamara, AMO President and
Mayor, Town of Tecumseh

Wednesday, September 23, 2015, 7:30 – 9:00am
Caesars Coliseum
Windsor, Ontario

2015 OAPC Annual General Meeting/Fall Conference

(Check Against Delivery)

As President of the AMO, I want to thank you for the opportunity to participate in this conference.

Your work is vital to our communities and Ontario’s municipalities appreciate the services you provide.

As the Mayor of Tecumseh, I want to welcome you our corner of the province.

Tecumseh Road is about three kilometers south of here, and you can guess where it goes to.

Our Town hall is about 20 minutes away.

This is possibly the shortest commute I’ve ever enjoyed to give a speech as the AMO President.

AMO and the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs have a long history of working together and our relationship has deepened and strengthened in recent years.

That relationship has its roots in the transition of ambulance services to municipalities seventeen years ago. It has grown strong because we need each other, we need to support each other, and we often want the same things.

Together, we are working to secure:

  • predictable funding,
  • better provincial regulation, and
  • new ways to deliver emergency medical services.
Mayors and councillors across Ontario value what you do. We value what you mean to our citizens and to our communities.

We value what our two Associations have been able to achieve together in our relationship with the provincial government.

Our relationship with each other – and our relationships with the Provincial Government – has evolved over the years. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing.

However, AMO and OAPC are both pragmatic organizations, and we both want what is best for Ontario’s communities. Your mission statement could be ours. We both seek evidence-based, responsible, public policy.

When I look to current issues, such as the fire-medic proposal, my thoughts come back to those words – evidence-based, responsible, public policy.

It’s hard to argue with that approach.

We are both working to make sure that Queen’s Park is using that approach.

We will know that it is, if we are asked to discuss the fire medic concept and its implementation challenges, long before decisions are made.

We will continue to work with you… with the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs… and with Ontario’s Emergency Services Steering Committee… to understand the complex technical and legal issues are understood by all.

We also want the Province to move on the recommendations of the dispatch study, so that we can transform and improve ambulance services. In particular, the Provincial Municipal Land Ambulance Dispatch Working Group has recommended changes to business processes, resource use, technology and information sharing.

We know that you have asked the Province to recognize paramedics as a regulated health profession in Ontario, with their own college. AMO looks forward to working with the Association to better understand the benefits and implications of this proposal.

There is no question that all three emergency services – police, fire, and EMS, need to adapt and continue to evolve.

Growing costs are a concern.

All Ontario communities must have safe, effective, and affordable emergency services.

Yet in the six years, from 2009 to 2015, municipal costs for policing have risen by 25%,

Fire costs rose 28%.

And EMS costs rose 37%.

Our projections to 2020 for EMS are just shy of $1.5 billion in total provincial-municipal spending. That’s almost $300 million more than we will spend this year.

From our perspective, change in the delivery of emergency services must deliver two things – improved efficiency and improved effectiveness.

When I look at policing, AMO has been pushing hard for reform. In April we published a policing modernization report with 34 recommendations. Just last month the Minister committed to a review of the Police Services Act, the first such review in 25 years.

When I look at fire services, there is the same drive for reform. The biggest target there is wage and benefit increases.

We have been clear about our desire to make sure that the interest arbitration system considers a municipality’s capacity to pay. Increases should also be fair to everyone else. Fire fighters should be getting increases that look like the increases that other people get.

And when I look to land ambulance services, I see your ongoing commitment to evolving the service.

Your work on community paramedicine is one recent example. We understand the community need for this work when your EMS capacity permits and it is a good example of enhanced primary care to reduce the need for emergency health services.

Our concerns are not with the provision of these services but rather who should pay for it. It is a slippery slope to have property taxpayers pay for more health services that should by rights and mandate be covered by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, not by municipal governments.

And there is one message to take home with you today it is this: the evolution must continue.

The pressures to meet the challenge of rising call volume, an aging population, and deliver cost-efficient service will only increase in the years ahead.

I believe the mission for you, as the Chiefs of the Paramedic Services, will be to lead that change; to shape the future rather than have it shaped by others.

Leading changes means a few things. It means continuing to keep patient care your top priority.

It means continuing to share and implement ideas for service and process improvement.

It means continuing to be the change you want to see in others.

When I look to the leadership you display locally and the leadership of your Association, I know you’ve already accepted that mission.

To everyone gathered here today, thank you for your service and leadership in communities across this province.

I also want to thank Norm Gale for his strong and passionate leadership as your President over these past five years.

I hope that you enjoy the rest of the conference, and I hope you enjoy your time in Essex County.
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