CORNWALL, Ont. – Paramedics in Cornwall, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry are seeking wage parity with their counterparts in neighbouring municipalities, but the City is pushing them to the edge of a strike, says their union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
“We have to stop the brain drain,” says Elliott Montford, President of CUPE 3251-Para. “We’ve lost 8 experienced paramedics since March 2007 due to poorer wages and working conditions. They all went to nearby municipalities because Cornwall, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry pay less. Our workers are fed up – they just want to be paid the same as other eastern Ontario paramedics. That’s all we’re asking for.”
Bargaining continues between the City and CUPE 3251-Para which represents 60 full-time and 20 casual paramedics who have been without a new contract since September 2007. Ten days ago the City requested a “no board”, which starts the countdown to a potential strike or lock-out commencing 12:01 AM, Wednesday, November 26.
Over the past two City budgets, funding for Fire and Police services have gone up 8.8 per cent and 6.8 per cent, respectively, while Emergency Medical Services (EMS) were increased only by 2.56 per cent, barely accounting for inflation. Property tax increases in 2007 for Fire services amounted to $238.16, for Police services $482.09 and for EMS services just $20.92.
“It’s frustrating to be treated like a second-class emergency service,” Elliott says. “Elected officials in Cornwall and Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry have the authority to abolish any possible work stoppage and send outstanding bargaining issues to a neutral third party, just like the other emergency services of Fire and Police. Other municipalities consider their Paramedics an essential service. Why can’t we?”
Elliott says the union is working hard to avoid a repeat of the February 2007 strike, and encourages the public to let their elected officials know they support wage parity for their Paramedics. Nobody wants a strike, Elliott says.
“The public needs to tell our elected officials to reach a fair deal with the Paramedics who work hard night and day to keep our communities safe,” says Elliott. “No more second-class status for Paramedics. Let’s settle this fairly, and fast.”
Elliott Montford, CUPE 3251-Para, cell 613-551-6379
David Robbins, CUPE Communications, cell 613-878-1431