Ambulance delays, staff shortage hit Canada’s public services amid COVID-19 surge

Ambulance delays, staff shortage hit Canada's public services amid COVID-19 surge

Public health services in Canada have been hit hard amid steep rise in new infections fueled by the Omicron variant of coronavirus, causing staff shortage and delayed emergency response.

Over the weekend, paramedics in Toronto, the country’s largest city, reported lack of ambulances to respond to emergency cases. It came as about 12.8 percent of the city’s “essential and critical services” staff was off due to COVID-19 as of Monday.

Brad Ross, a city spokesperson, said ambulances being tied up at any moment was “not an unusual occurrence” but it was becoming “more common” with workers sidelined by COVID-19 and stretched hospitals delaying ambulance offloading.

Mike Merriman, president of the paramedic union in Toronto, said about 10 percent of the city’s 1,400 paramedics were off work because of COVID-19, down from a peak of about 240 over Christmas.

“Our members could barely handle the call before COVID. And now that…

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