Frustrated by provincial government inaction, striking Ambulance Paramedics in BC have launched a TV advertising campaign. The ads call on the public to pressure the BC government to appoint an independent arbitrator to settle the three-month-old dispute.
Provincial Health minister Kevin Falcon has so far refused to help save the deteriorating ambulance service. Paramedics president John Strohmaier called on Falcon two weeks ago to appoint an arbitrator, but Falcon declined.
The 3,500 members of CUPE 873 are on strike for faster ambulance response times, better staffing levels, wage parity with other emergency responders and a multi-year contract. The employers’ dependence on part time workers, unpaid travel time and chronic overtime has stretched the paramedics to the limit.
The TV ads focus on the importance of the ambulance service and the need to maintain aging equipment, increase the number of ambulances, and pay our paramedics a living wage.
The BC ambulance service refuses to negotiate, sticking to its initial one-year, three-per-cent wage proposal. The union wants a three-year deal for stability and a move towards parity with other emergency responders.