The details of a new contract for BC’s paramedics have now been released following ratification votes.
Cameron Eby, the President of the Ambulance Paramedics of BC-Cupe Local 873, says there were two very big changes for members in rural and remote areas of the province, including here in the Cariboo.
He says the first addresses those who were on-call and getting a stipend that was below minimum wage…
“So that is immediately going to be fixed, it is going to be raised to minimum wage and eventually, before the end of this term of agreement, that type of shift is going to be eliminated altogether with a move towards regular positions where the paramedics are on a salary, or they are paid their full rate to be there and ready all the time.
Eby says the second perhaps bigger change is a move away from what is called the call out model that is the primary staffing model in rural and remote areas…
‘That’s where a paramedic doesn’t occupy a regular job, and instead makes themselves available and gets assigned work month to month and that always changes. And when they are assigned work they are on a pager, either at the station or at home, and they are dependent on actually receiving ambulance calls to get paid their full rate of pay
Eby says the plan is that by the end of this collective agreement, that expires in March of 2022, there will be regular staffing in every ambulance station in the province.
He says that not only means a steady income but also access to extended benefits.
Eby says overall the deal includes a wage increase of two percent in each year.
As of July, there were roughly 82 full and part-time paramedics in the Cariboo, 36 in Williams Lake, 24 in 100 Mile House and 22 in Quesnel.