VERY IMPORTANT PLEASE READ LEGAL PROTECTION FOR PARAMEDICS

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1 VERY IMPORTANT PLEASE READ LEGAL PROTECTION FOR PARAMEDICS

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3 Dear Member: Beginning in March 2014, the Professional Paramedic Association of Ottawa will begin providing Legal Protection to all of our paramedic members and associate members. Our research started in 2012 when we began to conduct an analysis of legal issues affecting paramedics, not just in Ottawa, but across Canada. The evidence yielded two clear problems: 1. Paramedics do not have adequate legal indemnification or legal protection. 2. Whether on-duty or off-duty, paramedics are facing an increasing number of charges that fall under statutes such as the Criminal Code of Canada, Ambulance Act and Highway Traffic Act. Over the last decade, paramedics have personally defended themselves at extraordinary costs. In each case, retainers for legal counsel started at $1,500-$2,500. The average cost for individual court cases has been $16,000-$60,000 with higher profile cases costing more than $200,000. We researched a number of solutions from Professional Liability (Medical Malpractice) Insurance to Legal Defense Funds to Legal Expense Insurance in order to determine the best means to adequately and promptly protect our members. The solution was clear. Due to the large size of our chapter, we were able to establish very low group rates for Legal Expense Insurance from DAS Canada and North City Insurance Brokers. The Professional Paramedic Association of Ottawa is proud to announce that a Legal Expense Insurance policy will now be included within the annual dues for paramedic and associate membership. With respect and sincerity, Darryl Wilton Advanced Care Paramedic President Professional Paramedic Association of Ottawa 300 March Road (4 th Floor) Ottawa, ON K2K 2E2 (613) Page 1

4 Historical Data Research yielded more than 200 cases against paramedics across Canada. The top 3 provinces with proceedings against paramedics are: 1. Ontario 2. British Columbia 3. Alberta Note: This is also consistent with the population. Court Cases vs. Arbitration More than 50% of all cases brought against paramedics end up in court. These court cases typically originate with the public. The rest are decided by tribunal (arbitration) and often originate with the employer. Types of Cases Involving Paramedics On-Duty 1. Highway Traffic Act offences 2. Criminal charges while on-duty 3. Dismissal or Termination 4. Workplace Discrimination 5. Bodily Injury 6. Law of Torts Off-Duty 1. Highway Traffic Act offences 2. Purchase disputes 3. Vacation disputes 4. Vehicle disputes 5. Property disputes 6. Law of Torts Page 2

5 Types of Legal Protection There are four types of legal protection that are commonly available to paramedics, the Current Model, Professional Liability (Medical Malpractice) Insurance, Legal Defence Funds and Legal Expense Insurance. 1. Current Model Currently, paramedics in some (not all) jurisdictions have a variety of language pertaining to legal indemnification via their Collective Agreements. Research has revealed these clauses are not as extensive, comprehensive or protective in comparison to what the police have developed. Police are protected by up to a dozen pages of legal indemnification while paramedics only have a few lines with no guaranteed employment nor legal funding during a case. In most cases, paramedics must foot their own legal bills and then seek compensation after a trial is complete. 2. Professional Liability (Medical Malpractice) Insurance Helps protect professional and service-providing individuals and companies from bearing the full cost of defending against a negligence claim made by a client, and damages awarded in such a civil lawsuit. The coverage focuses on alleged failure to perform on the part of, financial loss caused by, and error or omission in the service of the policyholder. Professional liability coverage sometimes also provides for the defence costs, including when legal action turns out to be groundless. Coverage does not include criminal prosecution, nor a wide range of potential liabilities under civil law that are not enumerated in these policies, but which may be subject to other forms of insurance. Page 3

6 3. Legal Defence Fund Legal Defence Funds are established when members of a large group make regular contributions into one account such that the pool of funds is able to protect individuals within the group. The sustainability of the fund is a factor of member contributions and cash reserves vs. expenses. These funds require time invasive oversight not just to manage the contributions and investment finances but also to closely manage the legal expenses when a case is before the courts. Ottawa Police Association President Matt Skof shared information about how their Legal Defence Fund operates. President Skof indicated that each case must occur while a police officer is engaged in the course of their duties and is subject to approval by an oversight committee. Their average legal proceeding costs $16,000-$60,000 to defend, depending on the profile of the case. Regardless, a number of recent court proceedings have each cost the Ottawa Police Association in the range of a half million dollars to defend. Matt Skof, President Ottawa Police Association In order to manage the sustainability of the fund, the Ottawa Police Association indicated they must ensure at least $2M remains invested at all times. Ottawa Police officers currently contribute $16/month. When did paramedics start thinking about legal protection? The topic became more prevalent in 2009 after a sexual assault charge was filed against a local paramedic. If paramedics started a Legal Defence Fund in 2009, at a similar $16/month, it would take more than 27 years to build a $2M fund that is comparable to police. Yet, five years later, nothing was in place. What if paramedics were to settle for a fund of only $1M today? They would have needed to start contributing over $41/month beginning January 01, This is presuming that absolutely no incidents would take place as each occurrence creates an economic burden that begins to drain the fund. Page 4

7 Do paramedics in Ontario have Legal Defence Funds? The short answer is yes. County of Renfrew paramedics recently started a fund whereby their paramedics contribute $21/month on top of their union dues. Due to the small size of their service, it will take more than 52 years before County of Renfrew paramedics have a $1M fund that can sustain itself while affording adequate protection to their paramedics. Although a multitude of life events may negatively impact your employment or lifestyle, Legal Defence Funds are also limited to events that occur only while on-duty. 4. Legal Expense Insurance Legal Expense Insurance is a new form of legal protection recently authorized in Canada and was not previously available when many other organizations started their own Legal Defence Funds. Legal protection policies now exist that cover paramedics while on-duty, off-duty and even with issues that are unrelated to their occupation. DAS Canada is an international player in the market of legal protection; they have been active in Europe for decades. Some of the items covered by Legal Expense Insurance include: Legal Defence Driver s licence protection Employment disputes Contract disputes Property disputes Bodily injury claims Tax issues Total loss valuation disputes arising from motor vehicle collisions Statutory Accident Benefit claims against your automobile insurers Issues arising from driving or being a passenger in vehicles owned by another person Court attendance expenses Page 5

8 Legal Expense Insurance is not just beneficial to frontline paramedics who are on-duty. It has broad applicability to all individuals while on-duty, off-duty, in the office, volunteering, at home, on vacation and when dealing with all sorts of potential legal issues. It also covers spouses and children living at home. As an insurance company, when a claim is approved, DAS Canada hires the appropriate legal defence for the client and will pay up to $100,000 per claim in legal protection with an annual aggregate of a half million dollars (in the event of multiple claims). DAS Canada also bargains reduced legal rates from prominent law firms and the related legal expenses are closely managed by the insurance company while a case is before the courts. Furthermore, Legal Expense Insurance does not require the systematic financial oversight as seen with Legal Defence Funds. The 450 members of the Professional Paramedic Association of Ottawa essentially have $45M in coverage with an annual aggregate of $225M. This also includes their immediate families. Note: The Ontario Medical Association also began providing Legal Expense Insurance to their 16,000 members beginning in Legal Expense Insurance definitely does not cover every possible occurrence that could affect an individual but it does address the main types of litigation that typically devastate ones finances, employment and/or lifestyle. There are dozens of cases. Here are a few: 1) Sample Case Criminal Code of Canada A Criminal Code of Canada case from 2009 resulted in sexual assault charges being laid against an Ottawa Paramedic. Legal defence costs remain under a confidentiality agreement, but were estimated to be significant due to the high profile lawyer selected for this trial. Legal Expense Insurance would have covered the costs of litigation and is now included with PPAO paramedic and associate membership. Source: CBC News ( Page 6

9 2) Sample Case Criminal Code of Canada A Criminal Code of Canada case from 2010 resulted in sexual assault charges being laid against a County of Renfrew paramedic who happened to respond to a emergency call within the City of Ottawa. Legal costs were in the tens of thousands of dollars for this trial. Legal Expense Insurance would have covered the costs of litigation and is now included with PPAO paramedic and associate membership. 3) Sample Case Highway Traffic Act Source: Ottawa Sun ( A Highway Traffic Act case from the summer of 2013 resulted in charges, demerit points and fault against an Ottawa paramedic. The litigation for this case is projected to cost from $9,000 to $16,000. One can apply to be reimbursed when the trial ends, but until then, the paramedic must finance the legal costs. Some individuals don t have an extra $1,600 let alone $16,000. Legal Expense Insurance would have covered the costs of litigation and is now included with PPAO paramedic and associate membership. Source: CBC News ( Page 7

10 Jurisprudence Review The Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council of Ontario was recently conducting a Jurisprudence Review regarding cases against paramedics. The literature was evaluated from a local, interprovincial and national standpoint. Some relatively high profile cases in Ontario were examined in order to determine which of the following forms of Legal Protection could be suitable to paramedics. One case involving police officers was also thrown into the mix in order to determine whether or not an insurance policy could also cover cases faced by police officers as they are currently protected by a Legal Defence Fund. Already acknowledging the inadequacies of the Current Model, only the last three forms of Legal Protection were assessed: 1) Current Model 2) Professional Liability (Medical Malpractice) Insurance 3) Legal Defence Fund 4) Legal Expense Insurance When this information was extrapolated and mapped out across Canada, the types of cases remained quite similar in proportion. It was determined that Professional Liability (Medical Malpractice) Insurance offered protection in the smallest number of cases against paramedics. It also does not cover cases under the Criminal Code, Ambulance Act, Highway Traffic Act or other statutes. Professional Liability (Medical Malpractice) Insurance is specific to medical errors of negligence and the lawsuits associated only with the consequence of those errors. Furthermore, Professional Liability (Medical Malpractice) Insurance is normally mandated by a regulatory body such as a College of Paramedics. However, in the province of Ontario, paramedics are not currently self-regulated although the Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council of Ontario is currently engaged in the process of analyzing this matter. The Honourable Deborah Matthews, Minister of Health and Long Term Care, is scheduled to announce Honourable Deborah Matthews, MPP Minister of Health and Long Term Care Page 8

11 the College of Paramedics decision during As such, not only does Professional Liability (Medical Malpractice) Insurance not cover a broad enough range of occurrences, it would also be advisable to wait until a decision is rendered by the Minister of Health. In essence, if 7,500 paramedics across Ontario were mandated to have this insurance they would be able to establish better group rates than 450 paramedics in Ottawa. What is most important to note is that the Jurisprudence Review clearly indicates that Professional Liability (Medical Malpractice) Insurance should supplement robust Legal Defence Funds or Legal Expense Insurance, not precede them. ** Legal Defence (Criminal Code), Drivers Licence Protection (Highway Traffic Act), Contract Disputes (Sale of Goods Act), Property Protection (Trespass to Property Act and Conveyancing & Law of Property Act), Fault Determination & Total Loss Valuation Dispute (Insurance Act Reg 668), Statutory Accident Benefits (Insurance Act Reg 403/96), Driving other Vehicles (Insurance Act), Bodily Injury (Law of Torts), Tax Protection (Income Tax Act) and 24/7 Legal Advice. The Mandate The Professional Paramedic Association of Ottawa recognized the recent number of legal proceedings created much discussion around the topic of Paramedic Legal Protection. We were also aware that Paramedics could protect themselves far more affordably as a group than they could as individuals. Page 9

12 Yet, the majority of members pay both professional dues and union dues which meant the method of Legal Protection needed to balance cost against coverage. The PPAO did not want a labour-specific solution as we are not a union and our members have unique needs. As such, we created a very strict mandate: Our members should not pay more for their combined dues compared to any other emergency workers in the region. In order to meet our mandate, we performed an analysis of the dues that are currently being paid by professional groups and unions in our region. The red, yellow and green lines indicate total dues costs with Legal Defence Funds or Legal Expense Insurance. Union Members (Frontline) - Paramedics pay approximately $890/year in union dues. Even when the PPAO dues are factored in, paramedics will continue to pay a lower amount than Ornge Paramedics, Renfrew Paramedics, Civic RN s, Ottawa Firefighters, Airport Firefighters, Ottawa Police and Ontario Provincial Police. Note: Associate Members from Communications & Tech Services also benefit from the same coverage and pricing. Union Members (Professional) - Superintendents and Commanders pay approximately $546/year in union dues. Even when the PPAO dues are factored in, these staff will continue to pay a lower amount than Ornge Paramedics, Renfrew Paramedics, Civic RN s, Ottawa Firefighters, Ottawa Airport Firefighters, Ottawa Police and Ontario Provincial Police. Page 10

13 Legal Expense Insurance Coverage At the 2012 PPAO Annual General Meeting, our Board of Directors was directed to investigate finding a balance between the most affordable and applicable Legal Protection for paramedics. At the 2013 PPAO Annual General Meeting based on our research, the Board of Directors was supported in the action to proceed with the purchase of a Legal Expense Insurance policy. As such, the decision was that all paid paramedic members and associate members of the Professional Paramedic Association of Ottawa will be covered by Legal Expense Insurance. Be advised the Legal Expense Insurance policy is not forgiving like the HELP Fund. You are either a paid member, or you are not. As such, you either have the insurance or you do not. It is therefore very important to make sure your membership is always in good standing. The Professional Paramedic Association of Ottawa is proud to announce that due to the size of our chapter we have been able to negotiate low group rates. As an individual, this insurance costs as much as $75/month. Thanks to our 450 members, we have been able to include Legal Expense Insurance within the new 2014 monthly dues schedule. PPAO Full Paramedic Members = $20/month (PCP s, ACP s and CCP s) PPAO Associate Members = $17/month (Communications and Tech Services) North City General Insurance Brokers and DAS Canada will send a copy of your new Legal Expense Insurance policy by mail. The following coverage will be in place: LEGAL EXPENSE INSURANCE COVERAGE LIMIT OF INDEMNITY PER CLAIM DEDUCTIBLE Legal Defence $100,000 Nil Drivers Licence Protection $100,000 Nil Contract Disputes $100,000 Nil Property Protection $100,000 $500 Employment Disputes $100,000 Nil Fault Determination & Total Loss Valuation Dispute $100,000 Nil Statutory Accident Benefits $100,000 Nil Driving Other Vehicles $100,000 Nil Bodily Injury $100,000 Nil Tax Protection $10,000 $500 Legal Advice Unlimited Nil AGGREGATE LIMIT PER ANNUAL PERIOD: $500,000 Page 11

14 Additional Benefits of Membership Members of already receive more value than any other paramedics in Canada. As the largest chapter in the country, we are proud to provide our members with the following benefits: Discounts Deals for Paramedics Our members are saving more money than they spend on dues. We offer local discounts on technology, travel, vehicles, RONA, sports, hot tubs, CAA and more Members Only Shift Exchanger Find and post shift exchanges. There are more than 80 new shifts posted every month and almost everyone finds a shift exchange Members Only Special Event Bookings Easily reserve a paramedic unit and all sorts of equipment for any community event. $5M General Liability Insurance for volunteers and special events The PPAO also provides the following benefits: Included subscription to Canadian Paramedicine magazine Included membership with the Ontario Paramedic Association Included membership with the Paramedic Association of Canada Your Professional Paramedic Association of Ottawa dues are tax deductible NEW! Legal Expense Insurance for all paramedic members & associate members This information package should not be regarded as legal advice nor comprehensive information. Many months of research was condensed into this short pamphlet. If you require legal advice, please call DAS Canada at DASLEGAL. I also remain available for questions. With respect, Darryl Wilton Advanced Care Paramedic President Professional Paramedic Association of Ottawa 300 March Road (4 th Floor) Ottawa, ON K2K 2E2 (613) Page 12

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