Friday marks the final day of negotiations between the Ambulance Paramedics of BC and the Health Employers Association to reach a new deal.
Veteran mediator Vince Ready was brought in three weeks ago to help break the deadlock in talks between paramedics and the province.
“Every day we wait or don’t have a deal, that hurts another patient or hurts our ability to provide the service we do,” said Troy Clifford, Ambulance Paramedics of BC’s president.
A few key issues continue to dominate the talks: wages, benefits and service delivery in rural areas.
The negotiations come as B.C.’s ambulance system is in the middle of a crisis, officials have said.
The union said 89 ambulance units were out of service during the latest bargaining session, which amounts to around 30 per cent of all ambulances in the province.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix acknowledged in December 2022 how challenging it will be to fix the ambulance system.
“It’s my view that we have to take strong action to recruit paramedics to rural communities and that’s what was failing prior to 2017 and that’s what we tried to change by moving people from casual status to permanent status,” he said.
The paramedics union president said job action is on the table and could be a route to take if negotiations stall but he’s hopeful a deal can be reached soon.
“Absolutely, if we don’t get the key issues addressed, job action is something we will consider down the road,” Clifford said.
“Right now, we’ve been having a lot of positive movement and that’s a good sign because job action is a last-resort tool to use.”
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