Paramedics Across B.C Petition to be an Essential Service

Seeking Support from the Community

2/16/2017

Prince Rupert Paramedics say they've lost their voice as a union to bargain with the government as an association.

Paramedics and volunteers across the province are seeking support from local community members to support them in the initiative to amend the health authority's act.

"We're just going person to person canvassing and trying to get as many signatures from registered voters as we can," says Sam Anderson, local paramedic.

Prince Rupert paramedic Sam Anderson says they want to be considered an essential service- and included in the police and fire act, which he says would be beneficial to everyone.

"It will protect them from ambulance paramedics from going on strike or being locked up from the government, that's the biggest benefit that it'll have, but it'll also give us the same treatment and respect as any other essential service in B.C.” says Anderson.

"I believe that paramedics are an essential service that all British Columbians should have access to," says local resident.

Ministry of Health spokesperson Lori Cascaden said in an email that she understands that the changes proposed by the petition would move to a labour system of arbitration which would lead to rising costs for taxpayers - as is evident in the municipal system.

Cascaden says in 2010, paramedics were brought into the health bargaining system to integrate ambulance and emergency health services in B.C. more closely with the broader health system. Since that time BCEHS has made progress in improving care and the experience for patients throughout the Province.

"It opens us up to strike situations and being locked up by the government if that collective wants to bargain a contract that they don't agree with," says Anderson.

Local paramedic Jennifer Lacey says they need signatures from 10% of every electoral riding in the province.

"Anyone who is a registered voter in this province of British Columbia can sign. We here at the All Native are set up to take signatures from anyone in any electoral riding- so if you are of any voting majority age and you want to support us then we can set you up with a signature petition.," says Lacey.

What message would you like to send to potential supporters?

“What is the value of emergency services? What's the value of the paramedicine in your community, is it an essential service to you? Most people have a family member or a personal experience with emergencies or having to call 911 and use a paramedic so we think it hits home for a lot of communities, so we really look for the support,” says Lacey.

Lacey says they've reached 50% of the required signatures in Rupert and will be at the arena for the remainder of the tournament looking for your support.

"The all native basketball tournament is a great opportunity for us to make contact with a lot of the smaller outline villages that we would not normally get people to town for necessarily," says Lacey.

“We're not trying to get anything specifically out of the next contract; we're trying to behind the scenes change it so that we have a stronger voice when we're bargaining,” says Anderson.