In an election year, Iain Angus says service boards across northern Ontario would like to see relief from the cost of land ambulance services. Property taxpayers pick up half the tab for land ambulance, he noted.

Angus says the directors from service boards wanted to get their message out ahead of the June 7 provincial election. As part of this year's budget, the service board added a third ambulance crew in Kenora. In the city, district services board says that 911 calls have increased by roughly eight to 10 per cent every year.

Earlier this year, Mayor Dave Canfield expressed concern the province might impose a new service model. Queen's Park was looking for municipalities, where firefighters trained as paramedics could work 24-hour shifts.

The mayor is also concerned cross-trained firefighters might be eligible for future contract arbitration awards the city can't afford. This would, in turn, bring with it added costs for ratepayers.

The union representing paramedics, CUPE, estimates that the paramedic fire model would increase costs for municipalities, as municipalities on average pay 55 cents more for a fire service response, compared to an ambulance service response. Municipalities pay 100 per cent for fire services through the local tax base, while the province pays 50 per cent of ambulance-based paramedic services.

Barry Baltessen chairs the Kenora District Services Board, and he's vice-chair of the northern Ontario association of service deliverers (NOSDA).

“We want to work with politicians of all stripes to improve child care services, affordable housing, Ontario Works and Land Ambulance across the North,” said Baltessen, in a prepared statement.

Association members deliver programs across the North that result in measurable gains to the quality of life of Northerners through:
• Providing financial and other supports to persons in financial crisis and/or having
difficulty entering or re-entering the labour force;
• Creating, maintaining and providing affordable and social housing;
• Addressing homelessness through funding and delivering diverse emergency
shelter and homelessness prevention services.
• Providing quality early learning and child care services to promote child
development while enabling parents’ educational/skills upgrading and
employment; and
• Delivering emergency

For more information:

NOSDA - Northern Ontario Service Deliverers Association

Kenora District Services Board

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