Paramedic union president Bronwyn Barter (left) and Tofino paramedic Rhiannon Davis describe Davis’ work making house calls under a new B.C. program, March 8, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. Paramedics to get their own union

Minister Adrian Dix wants to deal with opioids, community care

The B.C. government will be better able to work with paramedics on their most pressing issues once they have their own union bargaining unit, Health Minister Adrian Dix says.

Dix announced Tuesday that the change is to help the paramedics deal with the ongoing opioid overdose epidemic, which has put pressure on ambulance and other emergency services. It will also help with a long-term project to integrate rural paramedics with residential care and allow house calls with elderly people, he said.

“A standalone bargaining unit would provide members of CUPE local 873 the opportunity to integrate emergency health services provided by paramedics and dispatchers further into the health-care system,” Dix said. “By helping to ensure a strong voice for paramedics, this change would also support patient care, with a focus on key areas such as response times, rural and remote staffing, and innovative ways of treating patients with non-emergency injuries and illnesses.”

Former health minister Terry Lake announced in March 2017 that a pilot project for rural paramedicine is to be expanded. It started in Tofino, Ucluelet, Port Hardy, Cortes Island, Fort St. James, Hazelton, Chetwynd, Creston and Princeton.

The program has been expanded to more than 70 rural communities, allowing paramedics to visit patients between emergency calls to help them treat people at home or on scene in response to a 9-1-1 call where the patient does not require transport to a hospital.

The B.C. Liberals’ pre-election budget included $91.4 million over three years to fund the new paramedic system, hire 60 more paramedics and 20 ambulance dispatch staff.

A “universal hourly wage” for rural paramedics took effect in April 2017, replacing paid-on-call and giving part-time paramedics a raise.

Communities to receive rural paramedicine service, as announced in March:

• Island Health region: Alert Bay, Cortes Island, Denman Island (including Hornby Island), Gabriola Island, Galiano Island, Gold River, Mayne Island, Pender Island, Port Alice, Port Hardy, Port Renfrew, Port McNeil, Quadra Island, Sayward, Sointula, Tahsis, Tofino, Ucluelet, Zeballos

• Northern Health region: Atlin, Chetwynd, Dease Lake, Fraser Lake, Fort St. James, Granisle, Haida Gwaii, Hazelton, Houston, Hudson Hope, MacKenzie, McBride, Kitwanga, Southside, Stewart, Tumbler Ridge, Valemount, Wells

• Interior Health region: Alexis Creek, Anahim Lake, Blue River, Clearwater, Clinton, Creston, Edgewood, Elkford, Field, Fruitvale, Gold Bridge, Golden, Greenwood, Kaslo. Keremeos. Lillooet, Logan Lake, Lumby, Lytton, Midway, Nakusp, New Denver, Princeton, Revelstoke, Riondel, Rossland, Salmo, Seton Portage, Sicamous, Sparwood, Winlaw

• Vancouver Coastal region: Bella Bella, Bella Coola, Bowen Island, Madiera Park, Texada Island

BC legislatureparamedics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Parades for strangers; Penticton group spreading positivity during uncertain times

About four times a day, a group dedicated to spreading positivity wishes strangers a happy birthday

COVID-19: 2020 Peach Classic Triathlon cancelled

Athletes’ inability to properly train main reason for cancelling the long-running event

Childcare service in South Okanagan to serve just essential service workers

On April 1, OneSky childcare centres will only be available to essential service workers

Thousands affected by Penticton power outages

Two corresponding issues have resulted in approx. 7000 without power

Summerland care facility orders reusable masks

Okanagan Valley quilters ready to produce cloth masks if needed

‘The Office’ star John Krasinski offers Some Good News in trying times

‘The human spirit still found a way to break through and blow us all away’

Okanagan Telus customers’ service interrupted

Equipment failure caused a service disruption in parts of Western Canada Tuesday

COLUMN: Summerland council taking stock of its finances in wake of COVID-19

Municipality must examine effect of pandemic on budget items

Neighbours surprise Shuswap health-care worker with show of appreciation

Residents in subdivision greet neighbour on return from work at Salmon Arm hospital

Canada to spend $2B more on procuring medical supplies for COVID-19 fight

Government has signed deals with three companies

World COVID-19 updates: Putin may be exposed; 30,000 prisoners released

Comprehensive news update from around the world as of Tuesday, March 31.

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

‘This is no joke’: B.C. woman in Alberta hospital asks people to stay home during COVID-19

‘I want people to start listening to what the doctors are saying. This is no joke, please stay home’

Most Read