CALGARY – The union representing the majority of unionized Paramedics in Alberta says the quality of ambulance service may be adversely affected with the transfer of control of ambulance service in the province.
The provincial government will shift the governance and funding of Emergency Medical Services to the new Alberta Health Services on April 1st.
“We believe this could put the future and quality of ambulance service in Alberta at stake” says Rick Fraser, President of Canadian Union of Public Employees CUPE 3421 and spokesperson for CUPE Paramedics in Alberta. “We see emergencies every day on the street, but now paramedics are facing an emergency of our own” he says.
CUPE has a number of concerns about the transfer of EMS to the newly formed Alberta Health Services. Fraser says the province needs to address key issues such as reducing waiting times and the shortage of trained Emergency Medical staff.
“We believe that in order to protect the public and EMS services, we need to get some more information about this important transition” Fraser says. And, he says CUPE needs to be involved in the process. “We have a critical voice that must be heard in order to best represent the public good and the front line staff Emergency Medical personnel who serve them,” Fraser says. “We need a seat at the table.”
CUPE is asking for the Province to form a fifth functional bargaining unit in health care. “We are convinced that having our own bargaining unit is the best way to recognize our unique community of Paramedics in Alberta” Fraser says.
CUPE has released a Discussion Paper on the April 1st transition that outlines the union’s concerns and unanswered questions. CUPE has sent a copy to Premier Ed Stelmach and key officials with Health and Wellness, Employment and Immigration and Alberta Health Services.