The union representing British Columbia’s striking paramedics says the provincial government is forcing staff back to work because it was pressured by VANOC.

On Monday, Health Services Minister Kevin Falcon introduced legislation in the House to force paramedics to end seven months of strike.

Falcon said the move was meant to relieve tired ambulance service managers and to address the H1N1 pandemic.

But CUPE B.C. president Barry O’Neill said the union has a memo sent from Mike Wilkinson, VANOC’s director of medical services, to Ambulance Service CEO Lee Doney in September.

According to O’Neill, the memo stated that VANOC Medical Services required “definitive confirmation” by Oct. 1 that all required ambulance services would be provided as planned during the 2010 Games.

O’Neill said the memo went on to state that if service couldn’t be guaranteed through settlement or legislation forcing an end to the strike, VANOC would have to initiate “alternative contingency plans to avoid cancellation of the Games.”

O’Neill said it seems “obvious” the memo is “at the heart” of the government’s legislation.

“The people of B.C. have the right to know the truth from their health minister, especially when workers’ rights are being trampled,” he said. “To blame the H1N1 pandemic when the ambulance paramedics have been calling on the government to address this health crisis for more than a year is despicable.”

VANOC said it wasn’t commenting on the matter.

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