Ambulance paramedics in B.C. have voted 96 per cent in favour of a strike.

That doesn’t mean they will walk off the job, as their collective agreement doesn’t expire until April and it’s illegal for paramedics to stop responding to assignments.

B.J. Chute, director of public education for Ambulance Paramedics of B.C., said the vote to strike adds pressure on the government to listen to their concerns.

“Paramedics around the province are extremely frustrated and upset that the government doesn’t want to come to the bargaining table with any sort of fair mandate to negotiate,” he said yesterday.

Chute listed response times and wages as main concerns.

“Years ago we used to reach our response time mandate (of nine minutes) about 85 per cent of the time,” Chute said. “Last year, we only reached the response time mandate about 52 per cent of the time.”

He added that B.C. paramedics get paid about 20 to 30 per cent less than police, firefighters and paramedics elsewhere in Canada.

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