In addition to stripped collective bargaining rights, ambulance paramedics are being undermined by management consulting firms that recommend cuts to EMS budgets and by firefighter associations that work with right-wing governments to do the same, a pre-convention meeting on the EMS sector was told.
These developments are especially controversial in Toronto, where right-wing mayor Rob Ford is on an anti-union tear and has commissioned the firm KPMG to prepare a report on core services in the city.
Forum co-chair BJ Chute of CUPE 873 in B.C. urged delegates to be wary of such reports in their communities.
“Everyone should be aware of KPMG and do some research on this organization,” said Chute. “Get ahead of that ball, because they’re very well funded and very right wing and very against any kind of public ambulance service. KPMG will be coming to an organization near you. Their reports are very well written, so I urge everyone to keep your ear to the ground.”
Another Toronto development that could have nationwide implications for ambulance paramedics is the fire chief’s recommendation that fire services and EMS services be merged.
“This is a highly political issue,” said CUPE 416 president Mark Ferguson. “We are addressing every councilor and the mayor to advise them of the distinct differences between the two professions; that this is a mistake. We are expecting to be consulted through that process.”