May 28, 2021 at 9:00 AM
On May 3, 2021, Unifor sent an urgent meeting request to Ontario Premier Doug Ford in an effort to exempt Ornge paramedics from Bill 124; legislation that violates members’ collective bargaining rights and caps annual compensation increases to one per cent. A copy of the letter was also forwarded to Christine Elliott, M.P.P. Deputy Premier of Ontario and Peter Bethlenfalvy, M.P.P. President of the Treasury Board.
The provincial government accepted the meeting request which took place via Zoom on May 26th. Present at the meeting was Jerry Dias – Unifor National President, Katha Fortier – Assistant to the National President, Don Ross – Interim President of Unifor Local 2002, Mark Etherington – Unifor 2002 Chairperson and Peter Bethlenfalvy, M.P.P. President of the Treasury Board.
Unifor restated the position that Ornge paramedics are disappointed that they have been named in Bill 124. The legislation has excluded paramedics, but Ornge members were singled out under the compensation cap; an unfair burden imposed by Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his conservative government.
Jerry Dias reiterated that throughout the pandemic, Unifor members at Ornge have seen an unprecedented increase in patient care, critical patient transfers to ICUs and amplified services to Canada’s indigenous communities. The Premier has the power to exempt these members from Bill 124, but refuses to act even as these COVID heroes remain focussed and dedicated to saving lives each and every day.
Peter Bethlenfalvy acknowledged that Unifor, along with several other public sector unions are engaged in an ongoing court challenge against the Bill 124 legislation. He further acknowledged the contribution of the 200 paramedics who work at Ornge alongside of other health care professionals in the province of Ontario.
Mark Etherington outlined how Ornge is a particularly unique service provider with the largest air ambulance and critical care ambulance fleet in Canada. These paramedics have specialized skills and have taken on tremendous responsibilities, proudly going above and beyond their daily routines throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Without an exemption, Bill 124 will contribute to staffing shortages and retention issues. The government requested more information from Mark on that topic to add to the submission.
Peter Bethlenfalvy, M.P.P. and President of the Treasury Board stated that Unifor’s submission to exempt Ornge from Bill 124 will be reviewed. He said that he could not commit to the outcome, but committed that the government will do their due diligence and provide an official response by July, 2021.
More information will be provided as it becomes available.
For more information, please contact:
Ashley Watkins, Assistant to the Local President
21-05-28 Update to Ornge members EN.txt