The Canadian Press
HALIFAX – Nova Scotia politicians will return to the legislature Friday to deal with a possible labour disruption involving the province’s 800 paramedics.
A government spokeswoman says the paramedics will be in a legal strike position at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
Premier Darrell Dexter hasn’t said whether the government is looking at legislation that would prevent or end a strike.
The ground and air ambulance paramedics have repeatedly rejected offers from their employer, Emergency Medical Care.
Members of Local 727 of the International Union of Operating Engineers recently voted 73 per cent against a deal that would have given paramedics a defined benefits pension plan — one of their key demands.
At information pickets following the contract’s rejection, union members said they’re also seeking better wages.
Some said they’re looking for a 15 per cent pay hike over three years rather than the 11.1 per cent over almost five years that was offered in the tentative agreement.
The company says primary care paramedics with five or more years of service earn $50,396 a year, while critical care paramedics with the same amount of service make $67,369.
Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie accused the government of meddling in negotiations, adding he expects the two sides to be forced into arbitration.
“It should never have come to this,” he said in a statement. “If the NDP is going to legislate arbitration, they should have made this clear months ago. Nova Scotians deserve to know their safety won’t be compromised.”