B.C. adds hundreds of new paramedics to rural and remote communities

The B.C. government has added 271 new full-time positions for paramedics in rural and remote communities across the province, in an effort to address responsiveness.

The positions will be distributed across 60 rural and remote communities, with three different staffing models, moving away from the on-call model that would see paramedics working 72 hour shifts.

“We are excited to be bringing these staffing model improvements to our paramedics and the rural and remote communities we serve,” said Leanne Heppell, BCEHS’ Chief Ambulance Officer.

“We recognize that one staffing model doesn’t work for all parts of the province, and these three models will help us improve our services to better meet the needs of the community and patients and enable more of our paramedics to live and work in their home communities.”

The three models are called alpha, mix shift and kilo.

In the alpha model, which is what 21 communities will be transitioned to, there will be 24/7 emergency response service with at least eight paramedics in the stations, with staff on duty 24 hours a day.

There will be 25 communities moving to the mix shift model, which will have eight part-time staff for 16 hours a day and eight on call.

The final model is the kilo model, with 14 communities moving to this, which will have a full-time unit chief and staff on call.

In addition to these new models, the on-call pay is increasing from its current rate of $2 per hour to $12 per hour, as negotiated in the new collective agreement in February 2023.

“Today’s announcement by BCEHS is an important step toward providing more equitable access to care for people living in rural and remote communities, and better compensation and work environments for paramedics,” Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister said. “I commend the collaboration by BCEHS and CUPE 873 to make things better for paramedics who provide valuable, essential healthcare service to people in B.C.”