The CUPE 873 members have been on strike since April 1 but the provincial government has been unwilling to broker a settlement. The paramedics formally asked Health Minister Kevin Falcon two weeks ago to intervene by appointing an independent arbitrator to settle the dispute. Falcon refused.
CUPE 873 president John Strohmaier called the fact-finding tour invaluable, but troubling. “Any chance to meet with our members from across the province is always worth it. This tour was no exception - our members’ primary concern is for the public,” Strohmaier explained. “This time the other consistent feeling from the smallest community to the largest city is growing frustration with the government’s apparent lack of concern for paramedics and for the public.”
The executive heard repeated calls for faster ambulance response times, better staffing levels, wage parity with other emergency responders and a multi-year contract. Paramedics said the employer’s reliance on overtime, unpaid travel time and part-time positions, has stretched them to the breaking point. They continue to work under Essential Services.
Ambulance Paramedics spokesperson BJ Chute said, “Suggestions from our members on what to do next ran the gamut from temporarily suspending the strike to all-out job action now.” He added that the meetings were an opportunity to reiterate the paramedics’ legal obligation to follow terms of the Emergency Services Order.
Strohmaier said the executive is now collating the results of the tour to see what direction to take.
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