Union for B.C. 911 dispatchers calls for extended supports amid staff shortage

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VANCOUVER — The union that represents E-Comm 911 emergency service dispatchers in British Columbia is calling for the agency to extend temporary compensation and psychological supports amid a "dire" staffing shortage.

Emergency Communications Professionals of BC says staffing shortages have forced call takers to work "well beyond" their normal hours, which it believes is unsustainable.

E-Comm began providing shift differential enhancements for weekend workers, increased overtime pay and additional sessions with mental health professionals earlier this year "in anticipation of a busy summer for emergency services and the potential for heightened overtime requirements."

The union says the temporary provisions are set to expire Sept. 21, while the added mental health supports end in December.

Donald Grant, CUPE 8911 president, says the funding has made a "tremendous" difference, but the long-term solution would be to enhance the compensation package permanently.

E-Comm says in a statement that it is assessing "all available short- and long-term options," including extending the funding.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 31, 2022.

The Canadian Press