B.C.'s ambulance paramedics and their employer will meet next week for two days of formal negotiations after a month of talks aimed at closing the gap between the two sides.
CUPE B.C. president Barry O'Neill, who spearheaded the talks, said Wednesday the union and the B.C. Ambulance Service are now "close on many issues," although they have not yet discussed wages.
The 3,500 CUPE Local 873 members have been on strike since April 1 in a dispute over issues such as wage parity with other emergency responders, compensation and a multi-year contract. Some remain on the job because of provincial essential-service legislation.
O'Neill said the negotiation committees between the two sides will return to the bargaining table next Thursday and Friday.
"We're in an area now where there's at least a possibility that we can actually get to the end of the day on this one," he told CBC News in an interview.
"The parties have worked very hard to get to this point, and I'm hopeful that their next meetings will bring forward a tentative agreement that will be fair and equitable to both sides."
O'Neill said it's too early to talk about the union's specific demands on compensation and wage issues.
"Monetary issues are always difficult. How they come out at the end of the day is a result of some other things that may happen to improve the service both for the government and for paramedics specifically," he said.
The employer was offering a three-per-cent hike in a one-year deal, while the union wanted a seven-per-cent wage increase every year for three years.
Provincial mediator Mark Atkinson, who was assigned to the dispute before the strike, will be sitting in on the negotiations, the union said.