Residents of Cornwall, Alexandria and Finch, as well as the counties of Glengarry, Stormont and Dundas, have greatly reduced ambulance services today. CUPE Local 3251 members voted 97 per cent to reject the City of Cornwall offer, and went on strike at 7am on Monday.
“We have asked for arbitration, we have worked as hard as we possibly can to reach a settlement,” said Local 3251 spokesperson Bob Manny. “We pleaded with the Mayor and City Council not to force us into this position, but they have consistently refused to work with us on reaching an acceptable contract for our workers.”
CUPE Local 3251 - PARA are the paramedics who work in life and death situations and under tremendous stress. They work more than 40 hours a week, often in 12 hour shifts, and all they are asking is a fair wage settlement. The difference between what the City of Cornwall (representing the other cities and counties listed above who had no power to assist with the negotiations) and what the life-saving paramedics want is a low 1.5 per cent.
“We are an essential service,” Manny continued “and we recognize our responsibility to the communities we serve. We are dedicated paramedics, trust me you don’t go into this profession if you don’t really care about people - we aren’t getting rich and the conditions under which we function are not the best.
“We don’t want to reduce services by 50 per cent. However, the Cornwall politicians have ignored the harsh and extremely stressful conditions under which we work. The stress our members feel comes from many things - long hours, harsh conditions and often being faced with tragedy and the horrors of car accidents, fires, and violence.
“The politicians refused, on more than one occasion, our requests for arbitration. These same politicians, elected by the people of Cornwall, forced this confrontation when they asked for a ‘no board’,” Manny said.
CUPE Local 3251 - PARA, as essential workers, have limits on the number of hours they can work. When the strike begins service to 100,000 residents will be cut to 22 paramedics covering five bases with the support of eight managers. “And many of those managers haven’t been active paramedics for a number of years,” explained Manny.
“The reality of this situation is that for 1.5 per cent the politicians have stopped all patient transfers from one facility to another - unless it’s an emergency. And there will only be two ambulances serving those living outside Cornwall. We have yet to see a contingency plan. How could elected representatives do this?” Manny concluded.
For further information:
CUPE National Representative,