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VANCOUVERCUPE BC president Barry O’Neill is calling on the provincial government to get to the bargaining table with the Ambulance Paramedics of B.C.

The 3,500 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 873 began job action Wednesday after their contract expired. Talks broke down in February. Ambulance services continue to run across the province under essential services legislation.

In a letter sent today to BC Minister of Health George Abbott, O’Neill calls for immediate action to reach a settlement between the ambulance paramedics and Emergency and Health Services Commission.

In a meeting with Abbott last Monday, March 30, CUPE 873 president John Strohmaier proposed mediation, including suggestions for available mediators. “This is critical,” said Strohmaier, “the public deserves to feel secure about their emergency services.”

A government report by the Ministry of Labour states that there is “virtually no chance for a voluntary settlement”. The government countered with suggestions for a 90-day delay and the appointment of a fact-finder/facilitator.

At issue is the government’s failure to keep up with demands on emergency services. The paramedics are seeking wage parity with comparable emergency service workers across the province. They also want the government to supply needed ambulance crews to ensure that every community in B.C. is properly equipped to handle emergencies.

“In the interest of maintaining public confidence in this critical emergency service, it is imperative the parties agree to appoint a mediator/arbitrator now - to resolve this dispute,” O’Neill says.

Contact:   Murray Bush, CUPE  National Communications Representative, 778.554.2234
                 BJ Chute, Director of  Education, Ambulance Paramedics of B.C., 604.218.6169