Frontenac County CAO refutes union concerns that limited tax increase will hurt paramedic services

The union which represents Frontenac County paramedics is worried that the County's desire to keep tax increases at or under 2 percent could result in staffing and service cuts.

Frontenac County is hoping to limit next year’s tax increase to two per cent, but the union that represents the county’s paramedics fears that will lead to cuts within the service.

“So obviously, the paramedics are concerned because back in 2013 the same type of direction was given,” Chair of OPSEU Paramedic Division, Jamie Ramage said. “And in 2013, Frontenac County was the only paramedics services that actually reduced its staffing.”

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Those concerns have left Frontenac County’s CAO confused. He says the budget restraints were discussed at the last council meeting, but nothing was decided.

“Essentially, all we talked about was the process,” CAO, Kelly Pender said. “There was no discussion about service level cuts, or service level reductions in any shape, manner or form.”

“In fact, over the past two years, we’ve added resources on Wolfe Island. And we’re going into year two of three of adding another resource within the City of Kingston,” Pender added.

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Frontenac County paramedics have been receiving more calls for service than ever before — over 16,000 calls in 2016.

OPSEU estimates those calls will continue to rise by an average of five per cent a year due to an aging population.

Staffing costs account for about three-quarters of the Kingston Frontenac paramedics budget, which is just over $17 million.

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