The Canadian Union of Public Employees released its response to the MLA Review of Ambulance Service Delivery today, citing inadequate funding, loss of public accountability, and more collective bargaining headaches if the government moves to accept the reports proposals.
CUPEs analysis represents the front line expertise of over 750 paramedics and emergency medical services staff in Alberta who also point out that many key questions dealing with minimum levels of service are left unanswered.
The report has no realistic proposal to deal with funding ambulance services and recommends the problem be handed over to an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Board. We need the provincial government to establish a funding system that works and ensures equal access across the province, said Bruce Robb President of CUPE 3421 representing paramedics in Calgary. The EMS Board simply adds an unnecessary level of bureaucracy and blurs public accountability in what should be a priority for this province, he added.
The MLA report advocates new boundaries for ambulance service delivery taking authority away from municipalities, the most directly accountable level of government in the province.
Put together inadequate funding and another layer of bureaucracy and you have the ingredients for a poisoned labour relations environment. Taking away our right to strike is certainly no antidote, said Randy Littlechild, President of CUPE 3197 representing emergency health services employees in Edmonton.
In fact, experience has shown that workers without the right to strike will defy the law when workplace issues are not adequately resolved, he added.
With appropriate funding and public accountability we can provide a service that is second to none, said Robb. Surely with a service of this importance, planning for reform should be more thorough and address current problems rather than create news ones, concluded Littlechild.
CUPE is Canada’s largest union with over half a million women and men who provide public services. In Alberta, CUPEs 31,000 members work in health care, municipalities, schools, colleges, universities, libraries, emergency medical services, social services and casinos. Visit our CUPE website for more information cupealberta.ab.ca
Pam Beattie, CUPE Communications
(780) 484-7644 or (780) 288-1230 (cellular)