The Yukon government has signed an agreement with its volunteer emergency medical responders in rural communities, three years after volunteers raised concerns about burnout.
The memorandum of understanding, announced Monday, comes with an hourly honorarium increase of $2 an hour for the time volunteers are called out for emergencies.
It also includes standardized uniforms, a boot allowance, another allowance for loss of personal property while on call, and bonuses for recertification, training and retention.
Negotiations towards the agreement began in 2007, after responders in Watson Lake and Dawson City resigned or refused to go on-call to protest a lack of government resources and support.
They said they could no longer keep up with rising call volumes on a volunteer basis.
They asked the territorial government for more incentives to attract and keep volunteers, as well as funding for at least some paid positions in communities.
Ted Baker, president of the Volunteer Ambulance Society, said Yukon's 150 volunteer emergency medical responders did not get everything they had asked for, but they are happy with the agreement in general.
Baker said one issue that still needs to be addressed is how many responders should be dispatched to emergencies in rural communities.
"The government says two, which is what Whitehorse has done forever. In the communities, we've often done with three," he told CBC News.
"We understand there's budget constraints, we also find there's validity in having a third go on a call occasionally for mentoring purposes, to assist. We also believe this would help in retention."
Volunteers provide most fire and ambulance services in communities outside Whitehorse. There are about 15 active volunteer emergency medical stations across the territory, according to the government.
Emergency medical crews responded to 1,501 emergency calls in rural Yukon last year, compared to 5,033 calls in the capital city.