CAMPBELL RIVER—Striking Ambulance Paramedics of BC, CUPE 873 members, held a 24-hour sit-in this weekend at the landmark 30-foot high big rock outside of Campbell River on Hwy 19A.
Paramedics from all over North Island dropped by to stand on the rock for a few hours. They handed out hot dogs and water. Paramedics spoke with MLA Scott Fraser and the media who came out to cover the action.
Steve Bremer, an ambulance paramedic who lives in Courtenay notes that the paramedics are “fighting to improve a service that protects the health and safety of all British Columbians day in and day out.
“This was truly a group effort. Our members worked very hard to plan this event and make it happen. We had up to 40 paramedics there during the 24 hours to ensure the public knew what’s at stake in our strike.
“It was a little cold and the three brave souls who volunteered to stay overnight went home to get some sleep at around six o’clock Sunday morning. Thanks to all paramedics who participated, this was a great event.”
Bremer also thanked the community for their show of support. Drivers honked their horns throughout the 24 hours and many people stopped by with coffee and cookies. Bremer notes, “We’d like to say a special thanks to the folks that live across the road from the rock. They brought us over coffee many times and opened their home so we’d have access to bathroom facilities.”
Members from other unions also stopped by to show support by bringing signs and standing with paramedics on the rock.
John Strohmaier, Ambulance Paramedics of BC president, noted that with an essential service order in place, paramedics continue to provide services so that many people don’t realize that they have now been on strike 133 days.
“As people in our communities learn how badly the system has been allowed to deteriorate because of government inaction, they want the system fixed,” says Strohmaier. “Community support is appreciated and needed to pressure the government to get back to the table.”
Members of CUPE 873 want the government to negotiate so that improvements can be made to how services are delivered. Chronic understaffing and long response times continue to be the biggest issues paramedics want the government to address.