So the strike which had started back in April has finally ended after seven months. Or at least will end until the Olympics is over (I have a feeling the paramedics of BC will not back down so easily, especially after having been on strike for seven months). Lets take a look at the brilliant course the government has taken to “negotiate”a contract emergency healthcare workers so far:
Seems like the paramedics are striking. We’ll just make them look bad by blaming them for asking a high wage increase because we gave them a 2% wage increase after four years of zero pay raises. Hmmm looks like they’re still striking, well we’ll just force them to work under the emergency medical services act. They want a mediator to negotiate a contract? Well, they’re still working despite the strike, so we’ll just ignore them for the next six months and not talk to them…oh but wait…the Olympics is coming up….the whole world will see those On Strike stickers on the ambulances. We can’t have that. We’re supposed to have the best healthcare system in the world. We need them working. VANOC’s putting pressure on us, and just sent a memo stating that “alternative contingency plans [have to be initiated] to avoid cancellation of the Games” because there are no emergency workers to staff the games. Now how to solve this problem? Lets just write up a legislature, Bill 21, and force them to sign the contract and work. Problem solved! Workers rights? I’ve never heard of such a thing.
What the government is really doing is pushing things further to the brink of disaster. No one is going to want to join BCAS, firstly because of the poor pay and no benefits in the first 5 years in service, secondly because the government has absolutely no respect for their employees. The amount of resources is already severely lacking and there are not enough cars to respond to the growing number of calls. I had a friend whose coworker was having a stroke. It took the paramedics 40min to respond because they have to travel from two municipalities away. With ambulances diverted to the Olympics, guess who suffers? Right the people of BC. They are going to pull cars that can’t cover the current population to attend to the event. Not only that, but a lot of the baby boomers are aging and will need increased medical assistance in the near future.
Many paramedics have resigned and more will be resigning because of this legislature. Alberta looks like a wonderful place to start, you enter into the service as a full timer, get benefits, and get full wage per hour, no $2/hr or $10/hr foolishness to put up with. Sure there are many students still attending JIBC’s paramedic program, but most intend to go to Alberta to work, or work Industrial. Stations will continue to be neglected, especially in the rural areas, where paramedics are staffed in portables (Port Moody), or share a garage with a bus welding company (Revelstoke). It doesn’t take a genius to see where all this is going. The equation is simple:
Increase paramedics leaving the province + Decrease incentive to enter BCAS + Lack of ambulances + Increasing population and calls = A crisis waiting to happen.
Am I upset and angry? Hell yeah. How can I not be? Why is it that nurses, teachers, garbage workers, truck drivers, etc. get to strike and get a contract negotiated while paramedics can’t? What happened to worker rights? How ironic that the government is a “Liberal”party. They sure are liberal if they can just put forth whatever legislature they wish to get, whenever they feel convenient. Wait…that sounds more like dictatorship.
I see no good future in the BCAS. I’d be lying if I say I’m not considering working in Alberta in the future. Who wants to work for the BCAS when they treat their employees like dirt? I love BC, I want to work here, I want to give back to the community I’ve grown up in, but I’m having some serious re-thinking to do right now.
On a side note, I want to thank the paramedics for fighting as they have and still taking care of the people of BC. Your hard work is much appreciated. Also feel free to make use of all the sick days in the world during those games 😉
Another article by Adrian Nieoczym:
It Doesn’t Make Sense to Diss Paramedics
Show Your Support
Post Script (November 6th):
I had some time on my hands after finishing a midterm exam the other day. I made a couple of posters from a photo I’ve taken back in August. I’m going to print it out and put it in the back window of my car to show support.
Here are the pictures of the posters, one’s more printer friendly with a hazy white background, whereas the other contains the original picture. Feel free to use it to show your support, but please respect that it is my photo and refrain from commercial uses thank you.
Note: Original size versions (8 x 11″) can be obtained by the link below the pictures.