Last year I introduced Bill M217: Fire and Police Services Collective Bargaining Ammendment Act in order to include paramedics and emergency dispatchers in the existing Act.
As it stands, paramedics and emergency dispatchers are not considered an essential service. By including them in the collective bargaining act, we would eliminate labour disputes and the use of strikes or lockouts. The bill would give them the ability to resolve disputes through binding arbitration.
Earlier this year, and after consultation with paramedics and their union, I gave notice that I had intended to introduce a variant of the Bill. The bill would have given the Paramedics and Emergency dispatchers their own bargaining unit.
As part of our roll out strategy, we had prepared a letter that we planned to submit to the Minister of Labour today. The timing was designed to coincide with the Annual General Meeting of the paramedics union (CUPE Local 873). To our delight, the BC government proactively announced precisely this today.
There will be no need for me to introduce the Bill. Instead, our health critic, Sonia Furstenau, issued the Media Release reproduced below.
B.C. Greens statement on new bargaining unit for paramedics and dispatchers to improve patient care
For immediate release
October 23, 2017
VICTORIA, B.C. – Sonia Furstenau, B.C. Green Party spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, welcomed the government’s establishment of a new bargaining unit for paramedics and dispatchers.
“I applaud this move to give standalone bargaining to the paramedics and dispatchers working tirelessly to serve our communities,” said Furstenau.
“Paramedics and dispatchers provide an essential service on the front lines of responding to medical emergencies. Now more than ever, we are indebted to them as they have shouldered the additional weight of a horrific drug overdose crisis. This bargaining unit will enable paramedics and dispatchers to advocate for issues such as response times, serving rural and remote communities and the opioid crisis.
“I also thank my colleague, Andrew Weaver, for his diligent work advancing this file. Andrew introduced the First Responder’s Act in February and has advocating for the bargaining rights of paramedics and dispatchers ever since. I am proud this important B.C. Green initiative that will make a difference in the lives of British Columbians has been adopted by government.”
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
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