VANCOUVER - CUPE Local 873 ambulance paramedics and the Facilities Bargaining Association (FBA) have reached a tentative agreement with the BC Health Employers Association.
The five-year-deal includes a 5.5-per-cent general wage increase over the life of the contract. It also limits contracting out, expands employment options and protects benefits. The agreement, reached this week with the assistance of mediator Vince Ready, must still be ratified by both parties.
The multi-union FBA represents 47,000 health care workers across the province. CUPE 873 has 3,900 members and represents about 14 per cent of the FBA with the Hospital Employees’ Union accounting for 85 per cent.
For CUPE 873, the agreement includes long overdue provisions addressing pay scale issues. The new contract will phase in a universal hourly wage scale that will provide wage equity for about 2,000 part-time ambulance paramedics.
The contract will also add a minimum of 80 full-time-equivalent paramedic positions to communities currently without fulltime paramedics and promote a community paramedic model for primary care. The agreement adds a “regular part time” classification to give community paramedics regular hours, job stability and benefits.
CUPE 873 president Bronwyn Barter called the community paramedic program “an innovative approach to improving the health care system for those who need it the most; patients and their families. We are excited to be part of the solution.” She added that “while we recognize the hard work that lies ahead, we are looking forward to engaging in a process designed to better support paramedics in providing the expert care they want to give their patients in their communities.”
Details of the agreement will be distributed to union members next week. The FBA bargaining committee has recommended the agreement to its member unions.