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Newfoundland and Labrador's ambulance service model ‘flawed’, says Teamsters

Health Minister John Haggie released a review Tuesday of private and community road ambulance operators in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Health Minister John Haggie released a review Tuesday of private and community road ambulance operators in Newfoundland and Labrador. - Joe Gibbons

Teamsters Union Local 855 responded today to the province’s audit of ambulance operators released this week.

The audit found that three-quarters of ambulance operators across the province are failing to meet minimum staffing requirements and a third of them don’t pay the required wages.

Roger Spracklin, business agent for Teamsters Local 855 called the current system “broken” in a news release issued Friday.

The local represents the majority of the unionized workers in the province’s private ambulance services.

Teamsters’ statement said the current system of multiple ambulance providers is 20 years behind the rest of the country who utilize a single operator delivery model.

“A similar model would serve this province better than the current 48 operators,” the statement read.

The union is calling on government to involve all parties in the process of restructuring the province’s emergency response services.

“Our members know first-hand how difficult working conditions can be,” said Spracklin. “The hours they have to work, time on-call without pay, the level of workplace stress and fatigue and the impact of PTSD on the workers and their families, makes for very challenging working conditions.”

The union said they’ve been inundated with calls from members asking when government is going to take steps to prevent “what appears to be the deliberate and blatant underpayment of established wages,” and members want to know when they will get the retroactive pay and overtime they are owed.

Health Minister John Haggie previously called the audit results “troubling” and said there’s a potential for fraud.

The audit looked at three months and found there’s $540,000 that can’t be accounted for, triggering another investigation.

Spracklin said government failed to ensure compliance, adding the union invites Haggie to engage the union in restructuring the current model.


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