NDP: Paramedic vacancies growing, must be addressed

HALIFAX — According to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request received by the NDP caucus, the number of paramedic vacancies has increased for the last three years. In the first nine months of 2021 there were 100 vacancies, 25 more than in all of 2020. 

“Issues with paramedics and emergency medicine are often the tip of the iceberg. They point to systemic issues in health care that must be addressed,” said NDP Health spokesperson Susan Leblanc. “Often, paramedics are finding themselves unable to do their jobs, because they are with a patient at an emergency department for hours waiting for them to be taken on by the department, and aren’t able to answer new calls, which is very stressful.

“Paramedics need more support or we will continue to see this issue grow.” 

A second FOI shows that 54 paramedics left their jobs for reasons other than retirement in 2017. That number jumped to 73 in 2020 and 89 in the first three quarters of 2021.

“In both of these sets of data, we see this problem is getting worse,” said NDP Leader Gary Burrill. “When we talk about issues in the health care system, everything is connected, and the Conservatives need to be making major investments now in order to address the issues at their core.” 

The NDP has proposed solutions including increasing the use of Collaborative Emergency Centres, Physician Assistants, and getting people out of hospital beds and into the long-term care spaces they need.