Questions remain over ‘laudable’ 911 service change proposal

The provincial government’s proposal to amend regulations around how ambulance and the 911 services work has some laudable goals along with potential hotspots, says Elyse Sunshine.

Sunshine says the proposed bill — which amends regulations under the Ambulance Act and Health Insurance Act — is intended to provide 911 patients with alternative care options other than transport to a hospital’s emergency department.

“It’s complicated,” she tells “Obviously, Ontario’s hospitals are crowded. When people are in crisis in the community, and they or others with them call 911, they are and have always been most often taken to hospital. However, 911 is called in a wide variety of circumstances, and the hospital may not be the best place for the person in distress. Until now, however, there have been no real alternatives.”

The province has made a commitment to ensure patient safety and reduce hallway health care, says Sunshine, but more consultation and details are needed.

The regulation, posted Sept. 5, notes the Ministry of Health is planning to enable new patient care models for select 911 patients to provide timely access to definitive care where options other than transport to the emergency department may be done safely and appropriately.

“New models of care will help end hallway health care and ensure the delivery of high quality, integrated care,” the regulation states.

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