TORONTO - Ambulance paramedics in 48 ambulance services across the
province have given their union a stunning 93.5 per cent strike vote to back their
"This is a strong message to the employers and the provincial government which
funds them: bring a reasonable offer to the bargaining table", said Leah Casselman,
president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.
The strike vote was for 1,300 OPSEU members who work in 48 ambulance services in
Ontario. The services are located in such places as Chatham-Kent, London, Guelph, Owen
Sound, Burlington, Mississauga, Hamilton, Cobourg, Belleville and Ottawa.
The union and the employers are in conciliation today and tomorrow.
The provinces downloading of ambulance services to the municipalities has made
this round of bargaining particularly important to OPSEU members. Nobody is guaranteeing
the paramedics that theyll continue to work in the profession theyve trained
for after the downloading is complete in January 2001.
"Our members have given their professional lives to helping those in need,"
said Gord Armes, chair of the central ambulance bargaining team. "We deserve to know
that well continue to have jobs at a reasonable rate of pay after the downloading is
"Nobody wants to strike. But our members also dont want to be sacrificed
because of the downloading."
The employers are only offering job offer guarantees to actively-employed, full-time
paramedics who are not on Long Term Disability at the time of changeover. The employers
refuse to give job offers to part-time paramedics, even though theyre the largest
group of employees at many of the 48 services.
The employers offer of a 4.3 per cent wage increase over three years is not
adequate. Toronto paramedics recently settled for 14 per cent over three years. York and
Durham Regions will give Paramedic 1s a 7. 8 per cent increase and Paramedic 2s a 13.5 per
For further information:
Jamie Ramage & Gord Armes: (905) 821-1981 ext. 1156
Megan Park (416) 443-8888 ext. 207