After two years of bargaining, Prince Edward Island's paramedics' union has ratified a new contract with Island EMS.
Paramedics will see an hourly wage increase of between 27 and 29 per cent over three years.
"We're feeling pretty excited," said Jason Woodbury, president of the paramedics' union, CUPE Local 3324.
"We wanted to present a retention and a recruitment package, and that's what we did, and that's what we achieved."
Changes to increase recruitment
The wage increase will bring P.E.I.'s paramedics in line with wages in the other Atlantic provinces, something Woodbury said the union has been pushing for years.
"This will be the first time we've exceeded that and we hope to continue that trend," he said.
To help with recruitment, Woodbury said another change to the collective agreement is to recognize previous experience when it comes to a starting wage for new paramedics on the Island.
"This agreement has gone a long way to address the current labour shortages that we're seeing here with paramedics," he said.
"It's going to encourage paramedics from across the country to come to P.E.I. to work."
The union has also formed a retention and recruitment committee with Island EMS to look at issues of work-life balance, Woodbury said.
Paramedics' scope of practice could increase, says union
Though Woodbury called the bargaining process "difficult," he said the provincial government has really seen the value of paramedics.
"Paramedics have a huge scope of practice, and we've seen that throughout the pandemic, where paramedics were put in non-traditional roles," said Woodbury.
He expects that scope of practice to continue to expand, and said the union is working with the government to change regulations so paramedics can work in other areas of health care and not only with a single employer.
Union members voted 97 per cent in favour of the new collective agreement.
Woodbury said he expects the contract will be signed in the next few weeks, with the wage increase becoming retroactive to January 2023.
No one from Island EMS was available for an interview, but in a statement, a spokesperson said that they "look forward to continuing to work together to provide the highest level of care to Islanders."