Union serves strike notice as province attempts to force wage negotiations
theresa tayler/metro calgary
Alberta’s Minister of Employment Iris Evans says she will push cabinet to pass an emergency order today that will keep paramedics on the job this week.
Calgary paramedics have served strike notice that could have them off the job as soon as tomorrow afternoon.
As union boss Bruce Robb issued strike notice to the city just before noon yesterday, hundreds of Calgary EMS workers picketed outside of city hall in a show of solidarity.
“We can’t get a contract with the city. … We’ve had to take a strike vote, and we’ll service notice today, we want the citizens of Calgary to understand where we’re at,” Robb said.
Mayor Dave Bronconnier said he spoke with Evans just after EMS workers issued strike notice and asked the provincial government to step in and declare EMS an essential service, thereby forcing public emergency tribunal and binding arbitration between EMS and the city.
“It could mean a strike will be averted and that’s what we hope for as a city,” Bronconnier said. “Our No. 1 issue is outstanding health care for Calgarians, we want to make sure that EMS is on the road, and when people call 911 in an emergency, they are there to respond.”
The province is expected to review a report going to cabinet today and make a decision whether or not to force binding arbitration between the city and EMS.
The city contends that they have a contingency plan in place if the strike, which is planned for 1 p.m. tomorrow, occurs.
If the strike does go through, the city’s contingency plan would involve having EMS managers, who are fully trained paramedics, operating ambulances.
City spokeswoman Vickie Megrath would not say just how many EMS managers are available to replace the 425 paramedics who would be on strike.
“We do have contingency plans in place, we will be providing medical emergency services. Calgarians who are experiencing a medical emergency can call 911 and we will provide service as it is available,” Megrath said.
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