The contract offer received from the provincial government by paramedics in Nova Scotia has been rejected through a vote.
Several paramedics, who weren’t authorized to publicly discuss the terms of the offer, said it was for a three-year contract with an increase of about 20 per cent over the life of the deal. They expressed concern, however, that the contract did not do enough to address long-standing concerns paramedics have voiced about work-life balance.
Charbel Daniel, the executive director of provincial operations for Emergency Health Services, stated that the discussions with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 727 primarily centered around the recruitment and retention of frontline staff. He mentioned that the agreement presented a significant package of wages and benefits.
The existing agreement will come to an end by the conclusion of this month, and discussions regarding a fresh contract commenced in June.
Daniel stated in the statement that no additional comments will be given until further discussions have taken place with our union partners.
“We highly value the challenging efforts of our frontline personnel on a daily basis, and their indispensable contributions to the healthcare system.”
‘This is a fair financial package’
According to a recent report by the auditor general, 25 percent of ambulance shifts per day remain unfilled due to a shortage of available staff. Additionally, the report highlights that paramedics frequently exceed their scheduled working hours and face challenges in obtaining approved vacation time.
Premier Tim Houston addressed reporters in Halifax on Tuesday, stating that the government had presented a “highly appealing financial proposal.” However, he acknowledged that the final decisions would ultimately lie with the union members.
“It is quite usual for a contract offer to undergo additional rounds, and we acknowledge and honor that procedure,” he stated.
Houston stated that the government’s negotiating approach is characterized as “tough but fair.” He also highlighted the successful agreements made with nurses and doctors in the province as proof of this.
“This is a fair financial package. There’s always issues — internal issues within the organizations that guide the members — but we’ll just kind of move forward.”
IUOE Local 727 represents paramedics, clinical transport operators and members of the Life Flight team.
The union officials did not reply to several phone calls and emails requesting a statement.