NB ambulance staffing levels have not improved: CUPE

CUPE

CUPE says its members are very concerned about the lack of staff available to cover Ambulances and Dispatching in the province.

In a release, the union says the government and Medavie Health Services have been aware of this problem for years, but have failed to achieve any type of staffing increase.

In response to Medavie's introduction last week of double overtime pay for certain employees to fill positions, President of Local 4848 Greg McConaghy says, "this helps in the short-term but does little to nothing for the medium and long-term staffing issues."

He adds that paramedics and dispatchers work an average of between three and four hundred hours more per year than required, which leads to stress and burnout.

A release states that for 3 years CUPE has been asking the government and Medavie for the actual cost of overtime in the system.

Norma Robinson, President of Local 1252 says, "the Employer could only come up with this rough estimate of the costs: 6.5 million dollars per year. That is equivalent to 135 Full-Time-Equivalent (FTW) employees on an average salary of $48,000.00."

Both locals say Medavie needs to establish a new strategy for recruitment and retention for the entire service, with Robinson adding that existing money should be reallocated from overtime pay to real wage adjustments for dispatchers and paramedics.

The union says this reallocation would help fix the ongoing recruitment and retention issues for the longer term, and reduce sick-time and workplace injuries.