Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Province should intervene in paramedic strike, says opposition

VANCOUVER - The provincial government should force an end to the ongoing labour dispute between the BC Ambulance Service and the paramedic’s union CUPE 873, said B.C. New Democratic Party leader Carole James.

“I think binding arbitration is time. The strike has gone on long enough,” James told reporters at the NDP provincial council in Vancouver Saturday morning.

“I think the government should be sitting down at the table calling in an independent arbitrator and getting back to the table,” she said.

During the election campaign, both the NDP and the B.C. Liberals largely avoided speaking about the strike.

But earlier this week, newly-appointed Health Services Minister Kevin Falcon publicly refused a request by CUPE 873 to impose arbitration onto the parties.

“I’m not going to interfere in this dispute between the BCAS and the paramedics’ union,” Falcon said in a written statement provided to The Tyee.

“I firmly believe that there is no reason the two sides can't return to discussions and reach a fair agreement that addresses paramedics concerns, while recognizing the economic challenges we face in government,” he said.

The most recent set of two-day talks between the parties broke down at the end of last week and no further negotiations have been scheduled.

Wages and contract length remain the key stumbling blocks in the dispute, which next week will enter its fourth month.

Falcon’s response also included accusations against the union executive for recent comments made after talks broke down.

“I'm concerned with some of the language being used by [union president John] Strohmaier – and I am hopeful he would not recommend his membership actively breaks the law by defying the essential services order,” he said.

“It is even more disappointing to hear the union threatening to place patients at extreme risk by breaking the essential services order to try and manipulate the outcome of negotiations.”

But James said the minister's recent public comments about the strike are detrimental.

“We should be back at the negotiating table and you know you don’t help solve a dispute by enflaming the situation, which is what the minister has done,” she said.

“It was a worry I had when Mr. Falcon went into this file -- that you’re going to see someone who was not going to work with people in the healthcare system and I think we’re seeing that now.”

Garrett Zehr reports for The Tyee.

Find more in:

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus