New Brunswick

CUPE warns of more delays for ambulances due to snow

The union representing paramedics and snow plow operators in New Brunswick says more health emergencies could face delays because of unplowed roads.

Union calls for provincial cuts to snow plow operations to be reversed

The union representing paramedics and snow plow operators in New Brunswick says more health emergencies could face delays because of unplowed roads.

During last Tuesday's blizzard, an ambulance couldn't get to a medical call on a rural road in Grand Tracadie-Sheila because the road hadn't been plowed. The paramedic had to walk to the house to tend to the patient.

Ralph McBride, the co-ordinator for paramedics and dispatches for the Canadian Union of Public Employees in New Brunswick, said he wasn't surprised to hear of the problem in Grand Tracadie-Sheila.

"My first thought was that this is exactly what we've been trying to tell the government for two years now — that we're going to run into these problems eventually because the units we drive are not four-by-fours," said McBride.

"They're rear-wheel drive ambulances and they're heavy and they can get stuck easily."

Provincial cuts to snow plow operations in recent years continues to be detrimental, says CUPE's Andy Hardy.

"You gotta incorporate all those kilometres in the other operators routes, OK? And some of these routes are three hours, four hours, five hours long," said Hardy.

"So you know it is going to take you quite a bit of time to get that extra kilometres done and you're not going to get there as often."

Hardy says without changes, an incident similar to the one in Grand Tracadie-Sheila could happen again.

"It was just a matter of time before something like that happened and you know it could happen again," he said.

"We've heard enough about this and people complaining. Put those plows back on the road and put the spares back in the divisions to maintain and provide the level of service that New Brunswickers are used to."

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