Ambulance talks reach roadblock

Cliff Wells
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Mackenzie’s Ambulance Service has started advertising for paramedics and emergency medical responders.

Wednesday the ads began to appear on websites and in businesses in Port aux Basques, and ads began appearing in newspapers.

On Aug. 2 there were 11 paramedics and emergency medical responders who were either fired or quit depending on the side of the dispute you hear. Management says the workers quit, while the workers believe they were fired.

Steve Carey, an owner of the service, said the ads were designed to augment staff.

The company will train emergency medical responders in an 80-hour course and pay $14 an hour at 40 hours a week. Paramedics will earn $19 an hour for 40 hours.

“We’re advertising for additional staff,” Carey said. “We want this organization completely staffed and functional with as many employees from Port aux Basques as we can get.”

The course materials for the responder course is already on site and an instructor has been lined up. Carey said the focus on recruiting is paramedics.

He wants 100 per cent paramedic coverage — a paramedic for every shift on every ambulance.

According to Carey, within 10 minutes of posting the final notice, two people headed to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to obtain certificates of conduct, a requirement in the hiring process.

In the meantime, he said the service is meeting the calls.

There were four calls Wednesday morning — three emergencies and one routine transportation — and all were answered, Carey said.

“We have ambulances sitting by the door right now, waiting,” he said.

Andrew Parsons doesn’t see an end in sight for the dispute between Mackenzie’s Ambulance and its 11 former workers.

The lawyer for the workers, who maintain they were fired, said as of Wednesday afternoon it looked like the parties were at an impasse.

He’s pessimistic a deal will be reached, but said he’s still available to talk. In fact, a meeting was set for Wednesday evening. The results of the meeting were not known as of press time.

Parsons believed a deal was close Friday afternoon, and thought a deal could have been reached Tuesday, but Wednesday the camps seemed farther apart than ever.

“Our people are always willing to come to the table,” Parsons said.

“This is not a case of people who are on strike. This is a case of people who have been fired and want to come back to work, and therefore are always willing to figure it out. The problem is we haven’t been presented with anything different from the start.”

Tuesday, he said, it became clear using Employment Insurance to supplement the wages of the ambulance attendants was not possible. That event took out a basic part of the deal that was so close Friday and Tuesday.

“The problem here is money,” Parsons said. “There’s been no change in the status. It’s still the same old back and forth with no resolution.”

The Western Star

Organizations: Ambulance Service, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Employment Insurance

Geographic location: Port aux Basques, Western Star

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Recent comments

  • InTheKnow
    August 13, 2010 - 07:00

    That's the problem... there are no other people willing to work under those conditions. What's been left out of the media is the root of the problem. The former owner had 16 people on staff and now the new one is trying to have the same service with 11, making the other pick up the shifts. Just like other parts of health care, it's hard to recruit qualified paramedics to rural Newfoundland. The former owner use to recruit workers from Ontario each year, give them the experience they need and then they would return to Ontario. He couldn't expect them to stay because the wages are horrendous. I'm surprised anyone would work those hours, with that responsibility for those wages. Janitors in the hospitals make more than the paramedics.... and I'm willing to bet they get more than 1 weekend off every 2 months!

  • chris
    August 13, 2010 - 04:11

    Well the only ones he will get are ones who have never worked shift work before with call back and can't appreciate how exhausting this type of work is then to have only 3 days off in between and back at it again, Short lifespan I say, if he gets all the positions filled I say there is a sucker born every day . Your employees are your business and if you don't take care of them ,well you guess it.

  • Steve
    August 12, 2010 - 15:54

    I would imagine as in many disputes there are probably 3 sides to this story. However I guess you have to learn to know when to draw your line in the sand so to speak. The employer in this case is attempting to operate a 24/7 emergency service it is to be expected with this line of work you will be required to work something other than a Monday to Friday 9-5 schedule. The former employees will quickly find out that there will be plenty of people who will work a 6 and 3 schedule.

  • Wayne
    August 12, 2010 - 12:59

    I am amazed at all of this. The ambulance system has a new owner. It's a private business. The new owner says to staff " here are jobs if you want them, but they are not the same as with the old owner". The staff objects and refuses the new conditions. It's pretty simple...get new staff. I agree that the hours of work are rotten and I certainly would not want those conditions....but it's a PRIVATE business. If nobody wants to work those hours then he will have to change them.....but if other people are willing to accept the conditions then that's the way the ball bounces.

    • ex-empolyee
      August 17, 2010 - 21:07

      So you take 11 experience employees one with 28 years experience , treat them like dirt , call them names , treaten them everyday, tell them that he owns them, make their life a living hell for 6 mths and think that you well get respect the schedule is only a small piece off thsi pie. I pray for the people that live there and for the suckers that work there.