Ombudsman looking into how Ontario investigates ambulance complaints

Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube
Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube is seen at the legislature in Toronto on Thursday, April 20, 2017. . Colin Perkel / File / The Canadian Press

Ontario’s ombudsman  is looking into how the province investigates patient complaints and incident reports about ambulance services.

Paul Dube said Tuesday he is launching the probe after hearing from families of patients who expressed concerns about how the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s emergency health services land/air branch conducts reviews of serious incidents.

The reviews are required whenever someone transported in an ambulance is harmed, dies or suffers as a result of delays or similar issues.

Dube said the cases he has heard indicate a “potential systemic problem.”

READ MORE: Ontario Patient Ombudsman finds hospitals are main source of complaints

He said this is not about reinvestigating what happened to specific patients but ensuring transparent and robust oversight, and asks that anyone with relevant information contact his office.

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A spokeswoman for the ministry of health said the government is committed to improving and modernizing its emergency health services, and looks forward to seeing the ombudsman’s findings.

READ MORE: Ontario ombudsman clears London City Council over two closed meetings

“We take any and all concerns regarding ambulance services very seriously,” Laura Gallant said in a statement.

“Over the past year, both the ministry and our local ambulance partners have responded to every complaint we have received by conducting investigations into each and every matter to determine if there has been a contravention of the Ambulance Act, its regulations, or other standards.”