Councillor questions rise in city’s portion of ambulance budget
LONDON, ONT -- As the cost of ambulance service rises in our region municipal taxpayers are covering more and more of the bill.
Now Councillor Stephen Turner is asking why the ambulance budget, prepared by Middlesex County no longer sees the province pay 50 per cent?
The municipalities served by m=Middlesex-London EMS went from paying 51 per cent of its budget to 56 per cent.
“How do we maintain the cost apportionment ratios between the municipalities and the province? The budget that's been put forward really throws that ratio out of whack,” said Turner.
This week city and county leaders will meet to discuss skyrocketing ambulance costs that saw the service's estimated budget climb 15.9 percent.
Middlesex County CAO Bill Rayburn tells CTV News the provincial grant has yet to be awarded for 2020 so the amount of provincial funding is an estimate.
"With a one-year lag policy for the grant, it is impossible to have 50-50 in a year with an expanding budget that is responding to a massive call volume increase in the City of London,” said Rayburn.
It was just last week that more details were released about the pressures faced by the local ambulance service when county council received the 2019 Middlesex-London EMS annual report.
The total number of calls jumped 12.6 per cent last year and patient offload delays at emergency rooms grew by 8.1 per cent.
“The budget as proposed shows putting about two new full time ambulances on the road. That represents about $2 million worth of investment. The total increase is $5 million, so we are curious what the difference is there,” said Turner.
Last December Rayburn told council additional costs are related to equipment replacement, wage increases, and new PTSD legislation.
Turner says he wants to know how the service's business plan is considering the bottlenecks that drive up cost for municipal taxpayers.
We can put as many ambulances on the road as possible, but if they are all just going to get stuck at the emergency room, we haven't really addressed the problem,” said Turner.
The joint city county meeting will be held on Wednesday.