The Town of Taber negotiating committee has tabled bargaining proposals aimed at reducing ambulance services to sixteen hours per day from the current twenty-four hours.
According to Tim Kinahan, representative of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the Town has continued to propose the reduction in service levels despite being presented with multiple alternatives that would maintain the current 24-hour staffed service model.
“A part-time ambulance service should be of no comfort to residents,” said Kinahan. “Response times will inevitably and unavoidably increase. People having a heart attack or experiencing other emergencies can’t wait while crew members respond to the station.”
Kinahan suspects the Town wants the service to be taken over by the province, but is appearing to place the onus of that decision on the union.
“Taber residents want this service delivered locally – and we agree,” said Kinahan. “We have made numerous suggestions on how to keep the EMS local while saving money, but the Town doesn’t appear interested in discussing those options.”
Kinahan said negotiations between the Town and the Union have broken down and a mediator is being called in.
“Negotiations are not going well because the parties disagree on the principal of keeping the service local, and keeping it operational on a 24-hour basis.”
“I hope we can resolve those issues, but as EMS providers, we have a responsibility to maintain and increase public safety – we can’t keep silent while the Town compromises that.”