President to Member Update August 29, 2022

Dear Members,

Re: President to Member Update August 29, 2022

Over the last few weeks, your union has been working heavily on various projects leading up to starting formal bargaining, including supporting your Negotiating Team with their preparations and research, as well as arbitrations for many outstanding issues, including the failures of BCEHS’ payroll system.

As many of you have seen, BCEHS’ staffing levels have never been more dire.  It is not an overstatement to say that people are dying because ambulances are sitting empty throughout this province.  We are seeing up to 50% of our ambulances unstaffed during some shifts.  We are also seeing it spread so bad that some communities such as Richmond, Maple Ridge and Mission are seeing 100% of their ambulances sitting completely empty.  We are finding it harder and harder to move resources around to cover unstaffed communities, as the surrounding areas are also severely short.

We have heard from our members about what it will take to fix the mess BCEHS has gotten into.  We have brought your concerns forward time and time again and are lobbying the government for meaningful changes to our wages and benefits, mental health, and wellness funding, and how to improve resources and deployment models.  We continue to meet and push BCEHS, PHSA, HEABAC and the MOH ahead of official bargaining days and will provide updates as we have them.

Today, however, I want to say thank you to our entire membership.  I want to say thank you for what you are enduring; the long hours, the never-ending call volume, the unprecedented workloads, and the psychological, emotional, and physical stress that you are dealing with.  Thank you to our call takers and dispatchers for what you are taking on, knowing that we are so short of resources but trying to reassure our patients on the other end of the phone when you know that we do not have the resources we should.  Thank you to our front-line paramedics working day and night in these conditions when there appears to be no end in sight.  Thank you to all our staff who are working hundreds of hours a pay period throughout the Province, trying to cover their community.  We want you to know that while we appreciate all your efforts, it’s essential to put yourself first for once.  Do not feel obligated to workday and night at the expense of your mental and physical health.

In the coming weeks, you will see and hear more public and media campaigns from your union.  We are not going to stop fighting for our members and highlighting the staffing crisis we are in and what the implications are for our patients.  The citizens of this province need to know what the actual state their ambulance service is in, and we need our solutions brought to the table now more than ever.

Thank you again for everything that you do.  Please remember, even amid this crisis, do not forget to take care of yourself.

In solidarity,

Troy Clifford

Provincial President

Ambulance Paramedics of BC

CUPE Local 873