A Code Red was declared in the Region of Waterloo on Tuesday, as paramedics dealt with high call volumes overnight that spilled into the morning, causing off-load delays at all three Region of Waterloo hospitals.

Meanwhile Waterloo regional police responded to dozens of crashes Tuesday morning as freezing drizzle created treacherous conditions on area roads and sidewalks.

“We went into Code Red today,” Dave Bryant, co-vice-president of CUPE 5191 said. “We had to draw a few ambulances in from the City of Guelph as well,”

According to the union representing Region of Waterloo paramedics, there were no local ambulances available for several hours on Tuesday morning.

At one point, six Guelph Wellington Paramedic Service ambulances were assisting with emergency calls in Waterloo Region. The Hamilton Paramedic Service confirmed it responded twice in the Cambridge area as well.

“The call volume has just not stopped,” Bryant said.

slippery roads

Icy conditions kept emergency responders busy on Tuesday. Waterloo regional police responded to 32 collisions involving no injuries, six collisions involving some level of injury and one hit and run between midnight and 10:30 a.m.

“We have experienced several Code Red periods today due to the volume of calls that have resulted from icy weather conditions,” Region of Waterloo Public Health said in an email.

“When we show up to a call where there has been calls that have been holding for over two hours today. What do you say other than ‘we’re sorry?’” Bryant said.


According to the Region of Waterloo, 21 Code Red events were declared in 2021. That number jumped to 87 events in the same time period for 2022.

Bryant said there was four straight hours of Code Red on Tuesday. When that ended, another one was immediately called. He believes the number of Code Red events are on track to surpass the number from last year.

“It’s just become the new normal unfortunately. All our pleas for help from the province, for lack of a better term, have fallen on deaf ears,” Bryant said.

According to the Ministry of Health, the province is working on a four-part strategy that’s focused on returning ambulances to communities faster.

“We are continuing to collaborate with Ontario Health, local paramedic services, hospital leadership, and other sector partners on short and long-term strategies that increase ambulance availability and reduce ambulance offload time,” the Ministry of Health said in an email.

Bryant said with the issue of Code Reds continuing, he is encouraging residents to contact the provincial government about it.

“We need to speak up. We have to remember that Doug Ford and Sylvia Jones work for us. We are their boss and they are not doing a good job,” Bryant said.