Paramedic protest

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South Albion at Robert Angus

AMHERST – It’s about money and it’s about the pension, yes. But a protest in Amherst Wednesday by paramedics was about more than that, according to one participant.

“It’s not all about the wage,” said Novalee Bowden.

According to the Springhill-based paramedic, it’s about recognition for what these health professionals do.

Members of IUOE Local 727 gathered on the sidewalks at the South Albion and Robert Angus Drive intersection in the morning, distributing a one-page information sheet to those who slowed down.

“We’re employees of EMC,” said Roger McAbe, the union rep.

The spokesperson claimed EMC is a private company – part of Medavie Blue Cross - with a 10-year, $1.1 billion contract to provide paramedic services to EHS (the Medavie website describes the company as a “not-for-profit health service partner”). But despite the amount of money being spent, his profession is underpaid in this province, according to McAbe.

“We’re losing paramedics all the time,” he said.

He said colleagues leave for better paying positions in other parts of Canada. The union rep said his members are looking for 5-5-5: a 15-per cent wage increase over three years.

According to members at the protest, a paramedic’s training ranges from as little as 10 months to about five years, depending on the level of qualification and the college attended. A fresh recruit in Nova Scotia makes about $20 an hour. The highest wage – more years and more training – is over $28 an hour.

“Solidarity – sticking together for a common goal,” said Bowden, when asked why she was there.

The health worker said Nova Scotia’s paramedics have one of the widest scopes of practice – the broadest mandate to act – of paramedics across Canada. She said the public perception of them as ambulance drivers is inaccurate.

“It’s a lot of responsibility,” said McAbe.

The union rep said the pension plan they’ve been offered is good for younger employees but too expensive for senior members.

Bowden said they received a few negative reactions to the protest, but the reception was mostly positive.

eric.sparling@tc.tc

@ADNsparling

CORRECTION: This story has been altered since it was first posted. It contained incorrect information about a pay raise received by the Springhill Police Service. According to their association, Local 203, the police received a raise of 18.5% over four years.

 

Organizations: EMC, Medavie Blue Cross, Springhill Police Department

Geographic location: AMHERST, Canada, South Albion Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • They save lives.
    July 04, 2013 - 12:45

    ..IMO, This area of healthcare has been deserving of a fair contract for years. These people are saving the lives of our community when we need them. This is a job that has highly trained healthcare workers, who are always available, and ready to respond to any emergency at any time. Nova Scotia has the best trained paramedics at all levels. If you've ever needed them, you wouldn't consider their request unfair. Just what do you think a life is worth!!!

  • Charlie Joseph
    July 03, 2013 - 22:06

    There is little more offensive than requiring the general public, (the majority of which have little to no pension other than CPP), to pay increased taxes to fund special government employees and now regulated government paid contractors. It is immoral to say the least that retired people, many on supplement are going to be kicking in more in taxes and service fees to fund the protected "special" class of quasi government employee / citizens.

  • dave
    July 03, 2013 - 19:49

    Suck it up buttercup you start off at 4 dollars an hour more than i'm making after 15 years and I have no pension plan. Welcome to the real world of Nova Scotia. Darrel has done wonders for our province praise our great leader!!!!!

  • Shocked
    July 03, 2013 - 15:19

    18-18-18? By a town that is already wallowing. 15-15-15? When the going rate with unions is in the one and one-half range? Also, why is it that these people involved in Emergency Health and the Springhill Police groups appear to be severely out of shape? It just doesn't look good. Have another donut, but give John Q Public a break. Outrageous!