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  • Stephen Lecce, MPP

Ontario Connecting Northern and Rural Communities to Critical Care

SUDBURY — The Ontario government is investing over $108 million to expand Ornge Air Ambulance’s fixed wing fleet with four additional state-of-the-art planes and replace their existing eight fixed wing fleet. This investment will ensure Ornge’s air ambulance service can continue to provide Ontarians, especially those living in rural and remote communities, with consistent access to high-quality urgent care.


“Our government recognizes the important role Ornge plays in providing patients with timely access to care, no matter where they live in Ontario,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Investing in new, state-of-the-art planes is another way we are making it faster for Ontarians in rural and remote communities to connect to the care they need, when they need it, for years to come.”


Since December 2022, Ontario has successfully procured the fleet of eight new state-of-the-art fixed wing aircraft to replace the existing ageing fleet and increase Ornge’s ability to connect people in northern, remote and Indigenous communities to timely access to emergency care. Building on this renewal, the province is now investing even more to expand Ornge’s fixed wing fleet from eight to 12. Adding four additional fixed wing aircraft to the current fleet will ensure Ontarians have access to safe, reliable, and rapid air ambulance services now and in the future. Once the new 12-plane fleet is ready in 2026, Ornge will be able to add two fully staffed, 24/7 air ambulance crews to further connect people in the region in need of rapid emergency care.


In addition to updating and expanding Ornge’s fleet of aircraft, Ontario is providing Ornge with nearly $10 million to move from their existing Sudbury base to a larger hangar in the city that can house both their helicopter and expanded fixed wing services in one base. This new hangar will help better coordinate emergency care in the north, to ensure Ontarians receive the high-quality care they deserve across the province.


“This is a transformative investment in Ontario’s air ambulance and critical care transport program. With a new 24/7 fixed wing air ambulance crew based in Northeastern Ontario and additional aircraft added to our fleet, we will be able to bring high quality care in transport to more patients with enhanced reliability,” said Dr. Homer Tien, President and CEO of Ornge. “This will help us deliver on our mandate to improve health equity, particularly in Northern Ontario and among northern Indigenous communities.”


Through Your Health: A Plan For Connected and Convenient Care, Ontario is building a health care system that delivers the right care in the right place. Expanding Ornge’s fleet will ensure more accessible transport of patients across the province and provide patients with increased access to emergency care, closer to home.


Quick Facts


  • Ornge currently operates 20 aircraft with the planes used for longer distance transports. The helicopters are for shorter distances and emergency on-scene response.

  • Ontario is a large and geographically diverse province. Its population of more than 14.5 million is spread out over a one million square kilometres. Ontarians depend on safe and reliable air transport as part of their health care system.

  • Ornge provides a range of air paramedical services including moving patients between facilities, responding to emergency on-scene incidents and supporting health care in northern and remote communities.

  • Ornge conducts approximately 21,000 air ambulance and critical care land ambulance patient transports annually, with the fixed wing fleet making up 17 per cent of the total patient transport volumes.

  • Ornge plays a key role in access to care for the province’s northern and remote communities with approximately 98 per cent of Ornge’s fixed wing patient transports originating in northern Ontario.

  • To help increase the number of paramedics in the province, the newly expanded Ontario Learn and Stay Grant will provide students studying in the first year of a paramedic program in 2023-2024 at select postsecondary institutions with funding for free tuition, books, compulsory fees and other direct educational costs. After graduating, students will be required to work in the same region that they studied in, for a minimum of six months for every full year of study funded by the grant.

  • The Ontario government is helping more students who want to become a paramedic in Ontario by adding more than 300 student spaces in paramedic programs at provincial colleges across Ontario this year.


Quotes


"These important investments in ORNGE Air will help in transporting patients from across Northeastern Ontario to HSN faster so our teams can continue do what they do best in providing specialized health services for the region that only HSN provides. The increased transportation capacity will also help HSN and the entire healthcare system of this vast region work as one cohesive team in providing critical, urgent and emergency care, including for those even in the small and remote communities of the north."


- David McNeil President and CEO, Health Sciences North and Health Sciences North Research Institute


"Ornge's air ambulance service is a key partner in delivering care to the over 15,000 people living in the Hudson and James Bay region. I applaud the government's decision to expand Ornge's fleet so that all patients specifically those most difficult to reach can get the care they need when they need it."


- Lynne Innes President and CEO, Weeneebayko Area Health Authority


"The expansion and enhancement of Ornge’s Air Ambulance service is a vital investment that will save lives and improve health outcomes across Nishnawbe Aski Nation. Medivacs are lifelines, especially for our remote and underserviced communities. Every second counts in an emergency, and it is critical that Ornge is equipped with the aircraft they need to meet the needs of the communities that rely on them."


- Alvin Fiddler Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation


"As Chief of Paramedic Services here in Greater Sudbury, I’m pleased to see the province supporting the expansion of Ornge’s fixed wing fleet. The addition of these new aircraft here in Sudbury will allow Ornge to meet the growing demands to transport residents from Northern Ontario to hospitals across Ontario that can meet their health care needs."


- Joseph Nicholls Chief of Fire and Paramedic Services, City of Greater Sudbury


"The Greater Sudbury Airport is tremendously excited by the Ontario government’s strong investment in our community and Ornge Air Ambulance, recognizing the integral role that Ornge plays and the numerous benefits this will bring for Northern Ontario. As part of this investment, we look forward to working closely with Ornge as they expand their service at their Sudbury base and are committed to finding a suitable hangar solution at the Greater Sudbury Airport."


- Giovanna Verrilli CEO of the Greater Sudbury Airport


"We are very pleased that Ornge has elected to continue the excellent long term partnership with Pilatus in this upgrade to their fleet. We take great pride in being able to support the health care system of Ontario's citizens."


- Thomas Bosshard President and CEO, Pilatus Business Aircraft Ltd.


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