B.C. ambulance paramedics and dispatchers ratify 3-year collective agreement
Wages could rise as much as 13% over the term of the deal
Over 4,500 British Columbia ambulance paramedics and dispatchers have voted 96 per cent in favour of ratifying a three-year contract that could result in wage increases of as much as 13 per cent.
"That's a really encouraging mandate that's recognizing the significance of this collective agreement," said Troy Clifford, president of the Ambulance Paramedics of B.C.
The deal is retroactive to April 1, 2022, when the previous collective bargaining agreement expired. It calls for:
- Year one: A flat increase of 25 cents per hour, plus a wage increase of 3.24 per cent.
- Year two: Wage increase of 5.5 per cent with a potential cost-of-living adjustment to a maximum of 6.75 per cent.
- Year three: Wage increase of two per cent with a potential cost-of-living adjustment to a maximum of three per cent.
- New rural and remote service delivery model to replace scheduled on-call staffing.
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated what was an already stressed ambulance system plagued by staff shortages and long wait times.
The new collective agreement won't immediately solve the problems, said Clifford, but the hope is new investments in training and recruiting within communities will help stabilize the situation.
"The challenges we have had — service delivery waits, ambulance waits — are not going to be fixed overnight," he said. "We're still going to have to be creative to recruit people into the profession because we're competing against all the other professions in a human resources-challenged province."
The agreement was hammered out with the help of mediator Vince Ready.
"Having this strong collective agreement is really a good message to send that there's really good opportunities for people who want to become paramedics and dispatchers in this province right now," said Clifford.
with files from Joel Ballard