Paramedic union president Bronwyn Barter (left) and Tofino paramedic Rhiannon Davis describe Davis’ work making house calls under a new B.C. program, March 8, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. Paramedics to get their own union

Minister Adrian Dix wants to deal with opioids, community care

The B.C. government will be better able to work with paramedics on their most pressing issues once they have their own union bargaining unit, Health Minister Adrian Dix says.

Dix announced Tuesday that the change is to help the paramedics deal with the ongoing opioid overdose epidemic, which has put pressure on ambulance and other emergency services. It will also help with a long-term project to integrate rural paramedics with residential care and allow house calls with elderly people, he said.

“A standalone bargaining unit would provide members of CUPE local 873 the opportunity to integrate emergency health services provided by paramedics and dispatchers further into the health-care system,” Dix said. “By helping to ensure a strong voice for paramedics, this change would also support patient care, with a focus on key areas such as response times, rural and remote staffing, and innovative ways of treating patients with non-emergency injuries and illnesses.”

Former health minister Terry Lake announced in March 2017 that a pilot project for rural paramedicine is to be expanded. It started in Tofino, Ucluelet, Port Hardy, Cortes Island, Fort St. James, Hazelton, Chetwynd, Creston and Princeton.

The program has been expanded to more than 70 rural communities, allowing paramedics to visit patients between emergency calls to help them treat people at home or on scene in response to a 9-1-1 call where the patient does not require transport to a hospital.

The B.C. Liberals’ pre-election budget included $91.4 million over three years to fund the new paramedic system, hire 60 more paramedics and 20 ambulance dispatch staff.

A “universal hourly wage” for rural paramedics took effect in April 2017, replacing paid-on-call and giving part-time paramedics a raise.

Communities to receive rural paramedicine service, as announced in March:

• Island Health region: Alert Bay, Cortes Island, Denman Island (including Hornby Island), Gabriola Island, Galiano Island, Gold River, Mayne Island, Pender Island, Port Alice, Port Hardy, Port Renfrew, Port McNeil, Quadra Island, Sayward, Sointula, Tahsis, Tofino, Ucluelet, Zeballos

• Northern Health region: Atlin, Chetwynd, Dease Lake, Fraser Lake, Fort St. James, Granisle, Haida Gwaii, Hazelton, Houston, Hudson Hope, MacKenzie, McBride, Kitwanga, Southside, Stewart, Tumbler Ridge, Valemount, Wells

• Interior Health region: Alexis Creek, Anahim Lake, Blue River, Clearwater, Clinton, Creston, Edgewood, Elkford, Field, Fruitvale, Gold Bridge, Golden, Greenwood, Kaslo. Keremeos. Lillooet, Logan Lake, Lumby, Lytton, Midway, Nakusp, New Denver, Princeton, Revelstoke, Riondel, Rossland, Salmo, Seton Portage, Sicamous, Sparwood, Winlaw

• Vancouver Coastal region: Bella Bella, Bella Coola, Bowen Island, Madiera Park, Texada Island

Just Posted

Unplowed Roads parody song destined to be a classic

Move over Weird Al, Island elementary students on the same level

North Cowichan to pause all logging in forest reserve for 2019

Municipality expects decision to cause $150,000 shorfall this year

Vancouver measles outbreak prompts vaccine vigilance on Island

No cases here yet, but Island health authorities push measles vaccinations - and not just for kids

Sound of Music echoes with a surprising amount of cool

Chemainus Theatre review: my teenage self didn’t know what he was missing

Robert Barron column: Thanks to municipal workers during snow storm

I’ve always wondered how anything gets done when mounds of snow fall from the sky.

‘Riya was a dreamer’: Mother of slain 11-year-old Ontario girl heartbroken

Her father, Roopesh Rajkumar, 41, was arrested some 130 kilometres away

CRTC report finds ‘misleading, aggressive’ sales tactics used by telecom industry

Report recommends measures to make a fairer situation for consumers

Police dog tracks suspect through wintry Vancouver Island backcountry

Assault suspect arrested after two-hour track by Nanaimo RCMP police dog Jager

Trudeau takes personal hit amid SNC-Lavalin controversy: poll

Overall, 41 per cent of respondents believed the prime minister had done something wrong in the affair

B.C. photographer captures otters on ice

A Langley photographer was at the right place at the right time on the Fraser River

Do you live with your partner? More and more Canadians don’t

Statistics Canada shows fewer couples live together than did a decade ago

B.C. child killer denied mandatory outings from psychiatric hospital

The B.C. Review Board decision kept things status quo for Allan Schoenborn

Searchers return to avalanche-prone peak in Vancouver to look for snowshoer

North Shore Rescue, Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog teams and personnel will be on Mt. Seymour

Market volatility, mortgages loom over upcoming earnings of Canada’s big banks

Central bank interest hikes have padded the banks’ net interest margins

Most Read