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Discussion Paper Designed to Protect the Public and Emergency Medical Services in Alberta

CALGARY – In a move to ensure some certainty in the future of Emergency Medical Services in Alberta, the Canadian Union of Public Employees representing the majority of unionized Paramedics in the province today released a Discussion Paper on the transition of EMS services into Alberta Health Services. The transition of EMS governance and funding to Alberta Health Services is set to happen April 1st, 2009.

We are about 60 days away from this significant change in control and need some input and answers as to what the new reality will mean to the public and to paramedics,” says Rick Fraser, President of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3421 and spokesperson for CUPE Paramedics in Alberta.

 “We support the move by the Province to fully integrate emergency medical services,” says Fraser. “We believe we need a voice at the table so we have Paramedics representing Paramedics and the best interests of the public good.”

The Paramedics are asking the government to form a fifth functional bargaining unit in health care designed to recognize their unique community of interest spanning health and community protection. 

The creation of a fifth functional bargaining unit will give paramedics a critical voice in order to:

1. Reduce waiting times and optimize emergency services;
2. Be a key stakeholder in delivering top quality life support and community medical care;
3. Protect their designation as a Public Safety Occupation the same as police and fire;
4. Address the shortage of EMT-Ps.

The entire Discussion Paper has been sent out to Premier Ed Stelmach along with key personnel at Health and Wellness, Employment and Immigration and Alberta Health Services.


Rick Fraser is the President of CUPE Local 3421 (Calgary Paramedics) and Chair of the Alberta Coalition of CUPE Paramedics.

The Alberta Coalition of CUPE Paramedics represents over 1,000 paramedics in the province: 300 paramedics in the City of Edmonton; 450 paramedics in the City of Calgary; as well as paramedics at Camrose EMS; Parkland EMS; St. Paul EMS; Cochrane EMS/Fire; Inter-Hospital Transfer Edmonton; Fort McLeod EMS and the Town of Taber EMS.

The term ‘paramedic’ refers to all registered ambulance attendants in the province of Alberta and includes the following:  Emergency Medical Technician – Paramedics (EMT-P); Emergency Medical Technician (EMT); Emergency Medical Responder (EMR).

Over 7,500 paramedics are registered with the Alberta College of Paramedics.  This number includes a high number of EMT-P’s, EMT’s and EMRs who are EMS personnel integrated with Fire, in industrial services and reserve paramedics who work under federal jurisdiction.

 The breakdown is as follows:  EMT-P  1773
     EMT  2977
     EMR  2993

Less than 1,300 unionized paramedics work in municipally operated EMS services, the Palliser Health Region and the Peace Country Health Region.

The Discussion Paper – Paramedics Representing Paramedics and the Executive Summary are available on-line at www.cupealberta.ca