B.C. ambulance paramedics union, employer reach tentative contract deal

B.C. ambulance paramedics union, employer reach tentative contract deal

B.C. ambulance paramedics and their employer have reached a tentative collective agreement, both parties announced Saturday.

In a joint statement, Ambulance Paramedics of BC (APBC) and the Health Employers Association of BC say they reached a new agreement late Friday, Jan. 6, with the assistance of mediator Vince Ready.

Paramedics have been working without a contract since April 1, 2022, when the previous collective agreement expired, according to APBC in its own statement, also issued Saturday.

“We’ve worked tirelessly with the government and the employer to address our members’ and services’ most important issues and bring significant improvements to the ambulance service,” said Troy Clifford, president of APBC, or CUPE Local 873.

The union says the agreement comes after months of “challenging negotiations,” as 30 per cent of ambulances sit empty regularly.

APBC has been sounding the alarm about staffing challenges for years while also working through tough times, including the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing toxic drug crisis, it says in its statement.

“We have been acknowledged appropriately for a long time, and our service has deteriorated as a result,” according to Clifford.

Yet he says the new agreement will help secure a “significant foundation” for the province’s paramedic services while also acknowledging the profession’s challenges and providing appropriate patient care across B.C.

“This collective agreement will see a renewed commitment to the ambulance service, to our members, and ultimately, to our patients,” added Clifford.

“We take this acknowledgement as proof that what our members do every day matters, and that we are valued for the service we provide.”

Both parties plan to finalize details over the next week but won’t share details of the agreement publicly until a ratification tour concludes.

“Out of respect for the ratification process, which requires both parties to take the tentative agreement back to their respective members to ensure broad-based support, the parties have committed to keeping the details of the tentative agreement confidential and will not be releasing any details publicly at this time,” read the joint statement.

“Further details will be released once the tentative agreement has been ratified.”