Ambulances parked outside of a hospitalWhat the Peterborough Paramedic Service is proposing to paramedics in negotiations isn’t good enough and that’s why negotiations have broken down, says the union representing them, CUPE 4911.

“Staffing at the Peterborough Paramedic Service has become a real problem,” says Natalie Waters, president of CUPE 4911. “There are many days where we simply don’t have enough staff to fill the ambulances on the road. And if we accepted the proposals that the employer has on the table, that would only get worse, leaving our residents at further risk of not having a local ambulance respond to their 911 call.”

After negotiations between the union and the County of Peterborough broke down this summer, the union filed for conciliation, with the date set for October 13. The key concern for the union, says Waters, is that there was not enough staff to operate the ambulances for the majority of days this month – and that they are heavily relying on full-time staff to come in on days off to fill empty shifts, with that still not being enough.

“The employer has come with little to address the important issues of our members, and certainly we are not being heard at the bargaining table,” said Waters. “Retaining part-time staff is critical to ensure proper staffing, but when they are receiving better benefits and pension elsewhere we see them leave. They have their choice of where to work so we simply need to make the paramedic services jobs in Peterborough Paramedic Service more attractive in order to recruit and retain skilled staff here.”

“In addition to changes to working conditions that will improve our members’ health and welfare, we are asking the employer to bring a financial package that is comparable to and competitive with recent paramedic services - as well as with other public sector agreements,” added Waters. “Unfortunately, to this date, the employer is only offering a fraction of what we are seeing out there.”

Many paramedic services have recently reached settlements in Ontario. Recent settlements have been reached in places like Simcoe County, Lanark County, Sudbury, Windsor, and Haliburton.