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Toronto—Emergency services in Peterborough are approaching turmoil after four area paramedics were suspended on Friday and six more are slated to be disciplined today. The Peterborough paramedics are among a growing number of emergency services workers who, over the past month, have refused to comply with legislation mandating them to get a flu vaccine.

The County administrator and the director of emergency services in Peterborough have decided to take a very hard line position and discipline non-compliant medics. These bureaucrats are willingly putting the community at risk.

In the City of Toronto, they have taken a very different position. Toronto has said there will be no suspensions, and have in fact asked the Ministry of Health to rethink the wisdom of singling-out paramedics (and no other health care professionals) and forcing them to get a flu shot,” says Sid Ryan the Ontario president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the union that represents more than 2000 paramedics province-wide.

Paramedics from across the GTA will join Ryan at a rally today (Monday, January 21) at 10:30 a.m. in front of the Ministry of Health (Grosvenor and Queen’s Park Crescent) in support of the right of paramedics to choose whether to have the flu vaccine.

The Peterborough paramedics have been told to clean out their lockers because they are suspended indefinitely for “insubordination”. The municipality followed through on the threatened suspensions last Friday (January 18), although a committee of council passed a resolution on January 16 stipulating that the “County formally send a letter to the Minister of Health to express their concerns about the unfairness of mandating that the paramedics must receive the Influenza Vaccine.” The resolution also states that the legislation be voluntary.

It seems like the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. It’s evident however, that as in Toronto, Peterborough politicians want the Minister of Health to provide flexibility, and to change the Ambulance Act, so that paramedics are no longer discriminated against,” says Ryan.


For more information please contact:
Sid Ryan, President CUPE Ontario
(416) 209-0066
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications
(416) 578-8774