• News
  • September 20, 2013

Faster Access to Care for Emergency Patients in Thunder Bay

Gravelle and Mauro announce funding for ambulance-offload nurses

Ontario is improving emergency care in Thunder Bay by investing $228,480 in funding for nurses dedicated to treating patients who arrive by ambulance at the emergency room (ER).

Ambulance-offload nurses now care for patients with non-life-threatening conditions who arrive by ambulance at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC). This dedicated-nurse funding helps free up paramedics and ambulances with Superior North EMS so they can respond even more quickly to other emergency calls.

As Ontario’s population ages, municipalities are receiving more ambulance service calls. This funding will improve emergency room wait times and reduce the delays that occur when paramedics must stay with ambulance patients who do not require critical care as they wait to be admitted to the emergency room.

Providing faster access to health care is part of Ontario's Action Plan for Health Care and builds on the gains made in health care since 2003.


“This ambulance-offload nurses program is, quite simply, a better and much more efficient system for both patients and paramedics. Patients get skilled and compassionate nursing care as soon as they arrive at the ER, while paramedics—and ambulances--are freed up so they can respond even more quickly to other emergency calls.  I’m very proud our government is supporting this win-win strategy here in Thunder Bay.”

– Michael Gravelle, MPP Thunder Bay-Superior North

“We are committed to ensuring patients get the care they need faster, which is why we’re funding nurses to treat patients arriving by ambulance. This investment will allow paramedics in to respond faster to other requests for ambulance service and save more lives."

-- Bill Mauro, MPP Thunder Bay-Atikokan

“Reducing emergency room wait times is one of our top priorities in health care. These ambulance offload nurses are making an important difference in communities across the province, ensuring those who need it can count on getting the best emergency care."

—    Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-term Care

“Ambulance off-load delays, where paramedics and patients wait in hallways at the ER, have long confounded efficient EMS operations.  Identified as a key issue in our five-year strategic plan, Superior North EMS has been working closely with the TBRHSC to address the problem.  I am pleased to report that we have seen significant improvement -- an 81% reduction in off-load incidents (by count) and a 71% reduction in lost paramedic hours by day.  This has been achieved via this funding, through inter-agency teamwork and TBRHSC innovation.”  

-- Norm Gale, Chief of EMS, Superior North Emergency Medical Services

"Today’s announcement is an excellent example of how working collaboratively – in this case, with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the EMS– can result in innovative solutions that translate into improved patient care."

-- Dr. Rhonda Crocker Ellacott, Executive Vice President, Patient Services, and Chief Nursing Executive, TBRHSC


  • Superior North EMS is receiving $228,480 for this initiative in 2013/14.
  • Since this initiative was introduced in 2008-09, the average time ambulances spend offloading patients in participating hospitals has decreased by 16 per cent, representing a reduction of over 10 minutes per patient.
  • This funding is creating the equivalent of 152 full time nursing positions this year across Ontario.



For more information:


Maya Gorham

Office of Honourable Michael Gravelle

(416) 327-0655


Bill Mauro, MPP

Thunder Bay-Atikokan

(807) 623-9237


Norm Gale

Chief of Emergency Services

Superior North EMS

(807) 625-3259


Tracie Smith

Dir. Communications & Engagement


(807) 684-6010

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