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Paramedics book off sick, decline extra shifts

Ambulances and paramedics have been scarce this weekend. A spokesperson for the Ambulance Paramedics of B.C. says members were booking off ill or "exercising their right to choose not to accept extra shifts."

BJ Chute, Director of Public Education for the APBC, told The Tyee that a Labour Relations Board hearing has met Saturday and Sunday and has adjourned until Monday. "B.C. Ambulance Services is choosing not to proceed until tomorrow" with its claims the the paramedics are engaged in an illegal strike.

Chute said it was ironic that Health Minister Kevin Falcon had ordered paramedics back to work because of the H1N1 pandemic, but had taken no steps to ensure that they received flu immunization as a priority group.

"Paramedics are susceptible to H1N1 too," Chute said, adding that 30 to 40 percent of BCAS excluded managers have recently been off on sick leave or holidays.

B.C. Ambulance Services did not return a call from The Tyee, and its website has no mention of the labour dispute more recent than September 28.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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