A handful of paramedics with Unifor Local 1359 were outside City Hall in Sault Ste. Marie on a snowy Monday afternoon to send a message to City Council.
The union – representing 54 paramedics that work in the EMS Division of Sault Ste. Marie Fire Services – is prepared to strike and/or reduce services if a deal can’t be reached.
“We’re just hoping to get a fair contract at the negotiating table,” said local paramedic Matt Van Horn. “Right now we’re at an impasse and they refuse to move any further with negotiations.”
In a press release, the union said that the contract between its paramedics and the city expired in March 2017. On Oct. 25, union membership voted 93 per cent in favour of a strike.
“What we’ve been offered is about 85 per cent less than the cost of living, and the city doesn’t want to seem to budge on that,” said Brian Haines, who has worked as paramedic for 30 years, 12 of those years as a paramedic in Sault Ste. Marie.
“If we accept the offer that they’re offering us right now, we will be pretty well the lowest paid paramedics in the province of Ontario, which is shameful because we’re twice as busy as most paramedics in the province.”
Both parties will meet a conciliation officer on Jan. 12, 2018.