BURNABY – A lunchtime crowd of 40 people had two strong messages for Burnaby North MLA Richard Lee: negotiation is always better than legislation and ambulance response times in British Columbia are a disgrace.
CUPE BC regional vice-president Colin Pawson told the crowd a story about a school district gardener who fell off a ladder. As he lay on the ground unable to move, he wondered how long it would take for help to arrive. The gardener spent the next four months off work recovering, grateful to the ambulance paramedics who helped him that day. Colin is that gardener. His message to Lee is that “every minute counts when you are hurt and the government has a responsibility to reduce ambulance wait times.”
CUPE regional director Robin Jones, a former CUPE 873 ambulance paramedic, hailed the outstanding work by the dedicated women and men who save lives every day. “Something has changed” Jones told the crowd, “and Richard T. Lee and his government must take responsibility for that change. Chronic underfunding of the BC Ambulance Service and the lack of respect shown to paramedics lies squarely at their door.”
As the crowd assembled, Surrey-Tynehead Liberal MLA Dave Hayer left Lee’s office and completely ignored the gathering. A frustrating sign that those in government continue to be unwilling to communicate.
As the protest drew to an end, CUPE Strong Communities coordinator Heather Inglis made a call to action. “This is not a game,” the lifelong Burnaby resident said, “we must continue to write, call and talk to Premier Campbell, Health Services Minister Kevin Falcon and our MLA’s and let them know that if there is $500 million for a new roof on BC Place Stadium and $1 billion for Olympics security then there is money for the critical health services needed in communities around this province.”