B.C. paramedics union, employer reach tentative agreement

B.C. paramedics union, employer reach tentative agreement

B.C.’s ambulance paramedics and their employer have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract, both sides announced Saturday afternoon.

Members of Ambulance Paramedics of BC have been working without a contract since their last collective agreement with the Health Employers Association of BC expired on April 1.

A joint statement from the two organizations indicates that a deal was reached late Friday night with the assistance of mediator Vince Ready.

“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,” the statement reads.

Union president Troy Clifford hailed the tentative agreement in his own statement.

“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,” he said.

“This new agreement will help secure a significant foundation for improvement for paramedic services in B.C. and one that acknowledges the uniqueness of our service and challenges for our profession. This is a giant step towards providing the appropriate level of care to our patients across B.C.”

HEABC president and CEO Michael McMillan said in a statement that his organization is “very pleased” to have reached a tentative agreement.

he paramedics’ union has been vocal about staffing challenges for years, and voiced heightened concerns as the situation grew more dire in 2022.

Last month, Clifford told CTV News nearly half of all ambulance vehicles in B.C.’s Lower Mainland were out of service on the same night because of staff shortages.

The union says more than 30 per cent of ambulances in the province sit empty on a regular basis.

“Our members and service have been undervalued for years, making it impossible to keep up with recruitment and retention of highly trained paramedics and dispatchers,” Clifford said in his statement Saturday.

“This collective agreement will see a renewed commitment to the ambulance service, to our members, and ultimately, to our patients. We take this acknowledgement as proof that what our members do every day matters, and that we are valued for the service we provide.”