Paramedics petitioning to be essential service

Paramedics petitioning to be essential service

NANAIMO – Bargaining impasse to be decided by arbitrator.

Paramedics in B.C. are looking to be declared as an essential service.

Stuart Myers, Nanaimo advance care paramedic and a team lead for Your Province Your Paramedics initiative, said the movement seeks to have the Fire and Police Services Collective Bargaining Act amended to include ambulance service.

“What we’re trying to do is get recognized as an essential service and to have the same rights as the police and fire services, so if we reach an impasse with the employer in negotiations, rather than go into a strike situation, where we would be threatening to withdraw services etc., we go to binding arbitration,” said Myers.

In the past, when ambulance services went on strike, most of the members didn’t want to withdraw services from the public, Myers said, adding it doesn’t fit with what ambulance workers do professionally.

The Your Province Your Paramedics group petition seeks 10 per cent of the registered voters in each of the province’s 85 electoral districts and if it receives the necessary support, the issue will be taken up at the B.C. legislature or the subject of a general ballot.

Myers estimates “over a few thousand” signatures have been gathered so far in Nanaimo.

The deadline for canvassers to collect the necessary signatures is April 9.

“I think that getting recognized and having those same rights is very important to us,” said Myers. “Certainly our membership and certainly when we start talking to the general public when we’re out there, when they start realizing we’re not recognized as an essential service, some people are just aghast and the support has been fantastic, thus far.”

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Nanaimo News Bulletin