York, Ont. paramedic on paid leave amid investigation into now-deleted Twitter account
TORONTO -- A York Region paramedic has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into a series of controversial comments made on social media.
The comments were posted by an account with the handle @AgathaVanek10, whose description indicated the user was a member of the “Paramedic Regional Municipality of York.”
The tweets and account have since been deleted.
One of the more recent comments was made over the weekend in connection with an article posted on CTV News Toronto and CP24 about a fatal shooting in North York. The story included statements made by a family spokesperson, who described the 20-year-old victim as a “beautiful soul” and a caring, thoughtful neighbour.
In response to the article, the Twitter account user wrote, “Everyone has a beautiful soul!!! Sorry about his death but take a look at who shot him!! Just saying.”
Three days earlier, the same account posted a comment on a story about police firing stun guns and a bean-bag round at an knife-wielding man who confronted officers while allegedly stealing from parked cars.
“Lucky he’s not dead cuz I would have shot his ass,” the user said.
Users on Twitter who captured screengrabs of the comments expressed their shock and outrage at what was said. One person questioned how residents could have confidence in the paramedic “to serve all members of the community unprejudiced when she carries clear racial bias towards (people of colour).”
“This kind of intolerance and unprofessionalism is unbecoming of a paramedic,” the person said on Twitter. “She should be fired.”
One Twitter user called the comments “abhorrent” behaviour for a public servant, while another said that it’s hard to believe someone could “casually set aside this type of mentality” during a medical emergency.
On Sunday afternoon, York Paramedics issued a statement saying the organization was aware of statements and comments made by one of its employees on a personal social media account and that an investigation was underway.
“All York Region employees must perform their duties in a manner which maintains and enhances public confidence and trust through professionalism, integrity, objectivity and impartiality,” the statement reads. “The region’s employees are our ambassadors and are expected to reflect professionalism at all times, including the use of social media.”
“To the extent an employee’s use is entirely personal and such use contravenes regional policy, the employee is subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.”
Patrick Casey, director of corporate communications for the municipality of York, confirmed to CTV News Toronto that there was an investigation into the social media posts.
“While the investigation is underway, the employee in question has been placed on paid administrative leave,” Casey said.
CTV News Toronto has reached out to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents paramedics in York Region, for comment but has yet to receive a response.