Essex-Windsor EMS Asks Province to Reconsider Budget Freeze

Essex-Windsor Emergency Service is asking the province to reconsider funding cuts.

County Council voted unanimously to send a letter to the Ontario PC's asking them to remove a budget freeze that will hold back $2.3-million. Chief Bruce Krauter says the move will halt all capital projects for the 2019-2020 fiscal years to try and make ends meet.

Krauter says the government legislated performance standards and response times back in 2018 — new equipment, software, training, and vehicles are needed to meet those standards.

"The province put in the legislative requirements, but then they're not paying us for them," he says. "We're going to ask them to reconsider so that, even if we get a part of that $2.3-million back, that will assist us to continue."

He tells AM800 news reducing service levels isn't an option.

"We're six months in, are we going to find the $2.3-million? No, we'll have to live with it and at the end of the year figure out how we're going to cover that through other budget items," says Krauter. "We are going to try to get the majority of it covered."

He says some savings can come in the form of equipment spending. The service already purchased seven new ambulances but cutting the next phase of the fleet replacement could hurt long-term.

"Every truck costs roughly $180,000, so if we can extend some of that out. The problem is, if we extend it out too far we may save it now, but we're going to pay for it later," he added.

Krauter is unsure if the province will back down from the cuts.

In the meantime, he says they'll continue to look for ways to reduce the $2.3-million shortfall to a more manageable level.