A B.C. paramedic is speaking out against his employers, frustrated with how the province is treating its part-time workers.
Chris James is a long-time paramedic living on Vancouver Island and is speaking up despite this fear of being reprimanded by his employers.
James says shift patterns and pay inequity for part-time work makes it tough for paramedics, especially in rural areas.
“[You] can’t support somebody such as a $2 an hour pager pay or a $13, $12 an hour pager pay. It’s not conducive to a livable wage and the part-time paramedics aren’t getting a fair share. And that’s probably the root cause of the entire retention issue that you’re seeing in smaller communities.”
James says night shift patterns in smaller communities can often be 14-hours.
“There are call-out shift patterns and one in my station is a kilo-shift pattern, which means someone has to carry a pager be it at the station or at home if they live close enough for $2 an hour.”
He says when many carry a pager and are paid only a few dollars an hour, it’s often more lucrative to work at a coffee shop.
In response to our story BC Emergency Health Services has offered a written statement.
It says “we have been working together with the union representing paramedics and dispatchers on solutions that will enhance our ability to attract and retain paramedics and enhance our service in rural areas.
The statement adds, “the Health Ministry is working toward more investment for BCEHS as part of Budget 2017 and we look forward to implementing some of these solutions. “