Ambulance petition gains momentum
A South Glengarry motion to petition the provincial government to designate paramedic services as a full essential service has received strong support from municipalities across Ontario.
The motion, that would prevent paramedics from going on strike, was introduced by Coun. Trevor Bougie and endorsed at the September 4 regular council meeting and forwarded to Premier Doug Ford, Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell, the Ministry of Labour, AMO (the Association of Municipalities of Ontario), and all the province’s municipalities.
The United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry rejected the motion – pending an overhaul to the province’s arbitration system – at its regular meeting of September 17.
However, the municipality had received a total of 17 responses, as of the October 15 regular council meeting, with all but four choosing to back the motion/petition.
The cities of Belleville, Hamilton, St. Catharines and Stratford did not support the motion.
St. Catharines council “directed no further action,” Hamilton received the correspondence, in Stratford “if council decides to take action in the future, we will advise,” Belleville advised South Glengarry that city council passed a resolution to “‘receive’ your correspondence... but will take no further action regarding this matter.”
If paramedics are designated “essential,” they could not legally go on strike, similar to fulltime firefighters and police officers. Their union could, however, opt to send a bargaining dispute to arbitration.
Despite the strong support for the township’s resolution, Mayor Ian McLeod reiterated that he has reservations about its potential financial impact.
“Until legislation is brought in, with the ability to pay, we don’t want to be in a situation where we’re paying Toronto rates for paramedics and essential services here in South Glengarry,” said Mayor McLeod.
“It has happened across the province where negotiations have gone to arbitration and that has been the result... Just a word of caution.”
East Hawkesbury, Russell, Addington Highlands and Rideau Lakes townships, Goderich and Thessalon, are among the Ontario municipalities that have passed resolutions supporting South Glengarry’s petition.
The motion was adopted in the wake of a three-week strike in May by Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry paramedics.
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