The province’s paramedics are set to go on strike this morning with job action that aims to make things expensive for the government, while not compromising people’s safety.

“People should be assured that if they are in need of an ambulance that one will arrive,” said B.J. Chute, a spokesman with the Ambulance Paramedics of B.C.

Strike action could include a ban on voluntary overtime and administrative paperwork. Paramedics will also picket the B.C. Ambulance Service’s administration building in East Vancouver.

“A strike,” said Chute, “is designed to cause chaos. We intend to cause chaos for this government and our employer and make it very inconvenient and very expensive to run the ambulance service on the day-to-day operational side.”

B.C. Health Minister George Abbott met with the union Monday night and offered a voluntary 90-day contract extension to stave off job action until after the May 12 provincial election. The union rejected the offer.

The main bargaining issues for paramedics are service levels, increased compensation for standby shifts wages, contract length, and wages.

Chute said paramedics make 18 to 30 per cent less than other emergency re­s­p­onders and want to “nar­row that gap” with a long-term contract. “… The last term that we tabled was a seven per cent increase for (each of the next) four years.” The B.C. Ambulance Service responded with a one-year contract offer with a raise of three per cent and a signing bonus of $4,100.

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