B.C. paramedics fall short in bid to become an essential service

B.C. paramedics fall short in bid to become an essential service

An attempt by B.C. paramedics to be recognized as an essential service has fallen short after three months of collecting signatures in all corners of the province.

A total of 215,192 people signed the petition asking that the Fire and Police Services Collective Bargaining Act be amended to include paramedics.

However, the number fell short of the Recall and Initiative Act threshold, which requires signatures from 10 per cent of registered voters in each of B.C.'s 85 ridings.

"We are extremely proud of the effort and truly grateful for the support the public has shown us across B.C.," said a message on the "Your Province, Your Paramedics" Facebook page. 

Victoria paramedic Josh Henshaw started the petition in January to try and get B.C.'s 4,000 paramedics and dispatchers the same collective bargaining rights as firefighters and police.

Instead, they will remain under the Health Authorities Act, along with hospital support workers, where they make up approximately 10 per cent of the membership.

B.C. paramedics last went on strike in 2009 but back-to-work legislation effectively blunted the job action when the province temporarily declared them an essential service.

Workers with essential service designations like firefighters and police are not allowed to strike and are subject to binding arbitration in the event of a labour dispute.