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Toronto paramedics wracked with stress, poor morale: report

Last Updated Jun 2, 2015 at 7:17 pm EDT

Toronto EMS arrives at the scene of a multiple stabbing in an office building on Yonge Street in North York on April 9, 2014. CITYNEWS

They’re the men and women we trust in times of distress and emergencies. But a new report shows Toronto paramedics are experiencing distress themselves, saying morale is low amongst the ranks and it’s leading to divorce, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), drug abuse, and even suicide.

The report by the CUPE 416 EMS Unit was submitted in April. It will be made public on Wednesday by city councillor Jim Karygiannis.

Titled ‘Crisis In The Workforce’ it outlines how the combination of stagnant workforce growth and increased workload, along with a perceived lack of support from management, have left paramedics disillusioned and stressed.

That’s led to disputes among staff and problems retaining employees, the study says.

“…many Toronto Paramedics now feel totally unsupported by management and that their opinions and values are dismissed, which has also led to an apathetic attitude which is felt across the service,” it states.

The end result is decreased productivity, more absenteeism and lateness, and more grievances and disputes among staff.

The study notes that three Toronto paramedics have committed suicide over the past 16 years, with one in 2014, and that many more have been “verbalizing this thought directly to fellow colleagues in the past several years.”

More than 800 paramedics were surveyed for the report.  It suggests the poor conditions have been going on for more than a decade and recommends among other things, the development of a workplace wellness program and improved communications between management and paramedics.

The study concludes that “an outside consultant should be considered by Toronto Paramedic Services in order to resolve this situation.”

Next week, Coun. Karygiannis will call for the city to review the findings and come up with a report of their own.

A CityNews source says EMS management is refuting the claims, saying there is no morale issue.

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