Essential services are to be maintained during the strike.
As of January 19th, a number of Quebec ambulance workers have gone on strike, with approximately 90% of the Fraternité des travailleurs et travailleuses du préhospitalier du Quebec’s (FTQ) 1000 EMTs voting in favour of a strike. Workers have listed schedules, salaries and pension plans amongst their most pressing concerns.
While essential services are to be maintained during the strike, ambulances in the affected areas will no longer be posted during athletic events or movie shoots, with paramedics travelling only when deemed necessary. Workers will also refuse to transport medical escorts and equipment without a patient in the ambulance. Workers will not clean the outside of their vehicles during the strike, save for the essentials (I.E. flashing lights, indicators, etc.). Additionally, workers will not complete forms and verification reports for medical equipment and supplies, with the exception of the defibrillator monitor.
As of September 27th, Huntingdon’s own emergency workers were still in contract negotiations with Ambulances Radisson, the private company that employs the area’s local emergency workers. At that time, workers had expressed their concern for the need for change within their current work environment, due to issues with inefficiency—not to mention overworked employees, some of which are on call 24/7, working the 7/14 shift, a gruelling assignment that requires workers be no more than five minutes from the station at any given time. Serving Huntingdon, Godmanchester, Hinchinbrooke, half of Dewittville, Sainte-Barbe, Saint-Anicet and Dundee, the station has six full-time workers and only two ambulances for the entire area, with only one ambulance available after 5:00 P.M.
One local emergency worker had the following to say about the situation: "There is a lot of tension and frustration that will be caused by our strike. It can make the work environment difficult for everyone, but we’ve got to do something to show the Minister of Health that the way we are being treated is wrong. The status quo is no longer acceptable. We need change, not only for our benefit, but for that of the public we protect. After all, that is why ALL paramedics do what we do—for our patients. But we can’t do our job properly if we are all burned out."
Union representative David Gagnon, who serves as the vice-president of the FTQ of section 592 was available to comment, stating that, “The present negotiation is going nowhere. We are stuck between a Minister of Health that wants to cut the ambulance companies budget and the companies themselves that want to transfer these cuts to our working conditions. They have no consideration for the public and after almost two years without an agreement, we now have no other choice than to go on strike.”