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Ambulance Dispatch
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Emergency Health Services Branch

Updated November, 2012

Province population
The Province of Ontario spans over one million square kilometres with a population of more than 13.5 million.

Number of licensed ambulance vehicles in the province
Municipalities deliver land ambulance services. The number of vehicles operated by municipalities is not a provincially-reported statistic.

Number of EMS personnel
Approximately 7000

Number of EMS services
Land ambulance services are delivered by:

  • 53 certified land ambulance operators - municipal, private, hospital, First Nation and volunteer serving over 440 individual municipalities and First Nations communities
  • 19 Central Ambulance Communication Centres
  • 3 Ambulance Communications Services
  • 7 regional land ambulance base hospitals

Air ambulance services are delivered by Ornge.

Number of requests for emergency medical service in the most recent available 12-month period
Over 1.9 million requests for land ambulance service resulting in more than 900,000 transports.

Current legislation
The Ontario ambulance system is governed by the Ambulance Act, its Regulations and Standards. Copies can be obtained from the e-Laws website located on the Education Reference page.

Paramedic Employment
Paramedics are employees of individual service providers and salaries are determined by individual collective agreements. Employment information questions should be directed to the EMS service providers listed in the Directory of Ambulance Services on the Education Reference page.

Job outlook
Ontario is experiencing a demand for medical professionals and various other types of health care providers including paramedics. There is a current shortage of paramedics in the North.

Federal government funding
The federal government does not directly fund ambulance service operating costs; however, the Federal Medical Equipment Fund has been used to acquire additional ambulances and related pre-hospital care medical equipment.

Provincial funds allocated to run the provincial EMS offices
Municipalities are responsible for the provision and funding of land ambulance operations. The province provides a grant to municipalities for 50 per cent of the approved costs for providing services required under legislated standards.

Unique funding methods
The province funds 100 per cent of approved costs for the following programs; base hospitals; dispatch, Central Ambulance Communication Centres (CACC); and Ambulance Communications Services (ACS); ambulance service to First Nations communities; Territories Without Municipal Organization (TWOMO); and the air ambulance program. Municipalities are responsible for the provision and cost of land ambulance services within their municipality. The province provides grants to the municipalities for 50 per cent of the approved costs for providing services required under legislated standards.

Description of province-wide data-gathering system
The Central Ambulance Communications Centres have computer-assisted dispatching. Call information is stored in a central database warehouse, allowing reports to be generated either centrally or by municipalities/District Social Services Administration Boards.

Special projects or programs

  • First Nations Land Ambulance Services Program
  • Central Ambulance Communications Centres (11 of 19 ministry-operated)
  • Investigation, Certification and Regulatory Compliance Group
  • Education and Patient Care Standards section
  • Paramedic credentialing

Air Ambulance
Air ambulance services are delivered by Ornge.

Research and Development
The provincially funded component of the Ontario Pre-hospital Advanced Life Support (OPALS) study to determine the benefits of using advanced life support techniques outside hospitals to treat patients with cardiac arrest, victims of major accidents and patients with sudden breathing problems has concluded. In 2003 the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine accepted 12 OPALS/EMS related abstracts from the University of Ottawa. The final outcome results of the study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in the summer of 2004.

Quality Assurance
The province certifies and reviews air and land ambulance operators under legislated regulations and standards. The certification and review programs utilize peer review every three years which contains many characteristics of accreditation, inspection and compliance review. The province operates a peer based operational review program for base hospitals and CACCs. Paramedic call reports are audited by base hospitals for compliance with legislated patient care standards and delegated medical acts. The province operates an Investigation, Complaint and Regulatory Compliance program.

The Ambulance Act contains legislated Air Ambulance Certification, Land Ambulance Service Certification, Ambulance Service Communicable Disease, Ambulance Service Documentation and Patient Care and Transportation Standards as well as Basic and Advanced Life Support Patient Care Standards.

For more information

Emergency Health Services Branch
5700 Yonge Street, 6th Floor
Toronto, Ontario
Canada     M2M 4K5

Tel : 1-800-461-6431 (Toll-free in Ontario only)
Fax : 416-327-7911
Email :

Call the ministry INFOline at 1-866-532-3161
(Toll-free in Ontario only)
TTY 1-800-387-5559
Hours of operation : 8:30am - 5:00pm
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