The vast majority of B.C.’s 4,600 paramedics and emergency dispatchers have voted in favour of a proposed new three-year contract.
Their union, the Ambulance Paramedics and Emergency Dispatchers of B.C., has been in negotiations with the provincial government since the last collective agreement expired in April 2022.
In January, the two party’s bargaining agents finally reached a deal and put it to workers to mull over. Their union announced Tuesday (Feb. 14) that 96.1 per cent voted in favour.
The primary areas of change are around wages, staffing levels and mental health benefits, according to the Health Employers Association of B.C.
Retroactive to April 2022, the agreement implements a general wage increase of an undisclosed amount and a wage grid design intended to improve retention. It also increases on-call pay from $2 to $12 an hour, which was first introduced as an interim measure in October 2022. Finally, the deal provides a $1,000 mental health benefit for counselling.
Union President Troy Clifford said in a statement he’s pleased many of their primary concerns are addressed in the agreement.
“The fact that we needed to invest in paramedic services, pre-hospital care, and public safety was obvious. We’re glad that we could sit at the table together and put our members and patients first.”
Clifford said there are still some issues that haven’t been touched on, and that the union plans to continue to advocate for change.
“…we still have a long way to go in providing improved mental health and wellness support to our members.”
Clifford said they’re committed to getting a fully functioning ambulance service in every community in B.C.
The new deal will cover paramedics and emergency dispatchers until March 31, 2025.