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

‘An officer and a gentleman’: Const. John Davidson is laid to rest

Thousands attend memorial service for slain Abbotsford Police officer

Hands-on history during Douglas Day at historic Fort Langley

Satchel and foot stool owned by Sir James Douglas put on display

Douglas Day celebration honours Langley’s pioneers

Theme of 159th anniversary celebration was history of transportation in the region

VIDEO: Langley bottle drive helps families fighting cancer

Team Keian event honours memory of six-year-old

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

VIDEO: Coquihalla closed both directions near Merritt

Detours are available via Hwy. 8 and Hwy. 1

VIDEO: The Last Jedi is going to be the longest ‘Star Wars’ movie yet

Newest movie in the franchise will beat Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week.

PHOTOS: Procession and funeral for Const. John Davidson

Thousands attended celebration of life for Abbotsford police officer

B.C. Liberal leadership candidates debate different paths for party

Third debate held Sunday, Nov. 19 at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre

Apology to Canadians persecuted for being gay coming Nov. 28: Trudeau

Thousands were fired from the military, RCMP and public service because of their sexual orientation

Heavy rains, winds hit B.C.’s south coast

Localized flooding, gusts up to 70 km/hr expected for the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island

High winds cancel slew of BC Ferries sailings

Travel to and from Victoria and Vancouver as well as Northern Gulf Islands affected

Most Read