N.S. legislature to reconvene before paramedic strike

The Nova Scotia legislature is being recalled Friday morning just as the province's paramedics prepare to head to the picket lines.

Union representative says paramedics will comply with legislation

The majority of Nova Scotia's 800 ground and air paramedics rejected the last tentative agreement with their employer, Emergency Medical Care Inc. (CBC)

The Nova Scotia legislature is being recalled Friday morning just as the province's paramedics prepare to head to the picket lines.

Frank Corbett, the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, said there will be a bill when the house sits on Friday at 9 a.m. that will "protect the health and safety of Nova Scotians."

Corbett said with high temperatures forecast for the weekend, more people are expected to hit the roads and the water. He said the potential for only a fraction of ambulances available prompted the government to take action.

"Our options the whole way through this is to try and negotiate a settlement, that didn't happen," he said.

"We wanted assurances, EMC wanted assurances from employees that they would provide some emergency care or essential services care — that's not happening, so our option is to look after Nova Scotians."

Terry Chapman, business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 727, said he doesn't know what will be in the legislation. He said whatever it is, his union will comply.

"We are professionals, we want to treat this professionally," he said.

"We won't be doing any wildcatting or illegal strike."

Nova Scotia's ambulance fleet could drop from 100 to 30 vehicles covering the entire province if its 800 ground and air paramedics go on strike this weekend.

Last month, union members voted 73 per cent against a deal with Emergency Medical Care Inc. that would have given them a defined benefits pension plan — a key union demand.

The paramedics will be in a legal lockout position at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday.