Delegates to the 2017 convention of CUPE 873 (Ambulance Paramedics and Emergency Dispatchers of B.C.) received a good news surprise this morning by way of a video greeting from Health Minister Adrian Dix, who announced that the new government is initiating a process to establish a standalone bargaining unit for the province’s 3700 paramedics and dispatchers.

Dix also thanked paramedics for their exemplary service during this past summer’s wildfire crisis, as well as during the ongoing opioid overdose epidemic. The new standalone bargaining unit comes after the former government transferred the paramedics to the Facilities Bargaining Association (FBA) in 2010.

“We believe the creation of a standalone bargaining unit for B.C.’s paramedics and dispatchers is in the public interest, creating a venue to work collaboratively with government on important issues, such as ambulance response times, paramedic resources, the opioid crisis and patient care,” said CUPE Local 873 president Bronwyn Barter. “We value our relationship with our colleagues in the FBA, and thank them for their support and collaboration over the last seven years. This move is an acknowledgement by the government that our paramedics and dispatchers have a unique role in providing a vital service to patients and the public.”

CUPE BC President Paul Faoro welcomed the announcement and said that the new bargaining structure would bring significant benefits to patients and communities.

“This decision shows the value of government actually consulting with workers and the unions that represent them, rather than picking fights for partisan political gain as was the practice of the former government over the past 16 years,” said Faoro. “Congratulations to CUPE Local 873, all the member unions of the FBA and the provincial government for acting in the best interests of all, and not the narrow few.”