Ornge Bargaining Update

Ornge Bargaining Update

August 4, 2021 at 5:30 PM


As you know, we have been without a collective bargaining agreement for more than a year now. Unifor and the company have now met on 30 occasions.

Following the memberships rejection of a Tentative Settlement, the Bargaining Committee initiated a series of Zoom teleconference meetings to listen to the members concerns.

We are pursuing several different initiatives concurrently as follows:

  1. Unifor2002 formally requested exemption from Bill 124 early in May 2021. Unifor National President, Jerry Dias was able to arrange a special meeting with Ontario Minister of Finance and Ontario Treasury Board Chairman, Peter Bethlenfalvy. Jerry Dias, Mark Etherington and Katha Fortier - Unifor National Assistant to the President, attended the special meeting held on May 26, 2021. During the meeting, we noted the existing challenges of recruitment and retention would only worsen if we were not exempt from the Ontario bill. Minister Bethlenfalvy and his staff requested further information about the recruitment and retention challenges we face. A detailed response was provided. As we have had no reply yet, I will have Unifor National follow up shortly.

  2. In the fall of 2020, the Unifor bargaining committee began to propose an Essential Services Agreement (ESA) with the employer. The Essential Service Collective Bargaining Act mandates all Ontario EMS services have an ESA agreement in place during bargaining. Simply stated, the ESA outlines exactly what a "strike" would look like should it be required. Following 3 dates with the Ontario Labour Relations Board, an ESA order was written. While we will continue to provide full coverage of all shifts throughout the province, there would be a significant impact to the employer maintaining efficiency and effectiveness during labour unrest. While we continue to pursue a fair and effective bargaining agreement, we now have a viable alternative in place.

  3. In early July 2021, the employer applied for conciliation. A Conciliator has been appointed but a date has yet to be confirmed. The Conciliator will meet with both parties in an attempt to assess if there is still any possibility of a negotiated settlement.

All three of these initiates have occurred concurrently over the past few months. Combined with the fact we are in the middle of summer and slowly emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is no surprise that the pace has become painfully slow. In order to address the suggestions, we heard from the membership during ratification, and we fully comprehend that it is vital that each of the above initiatives are reviewed in detail.

Click here to download a PDF copy of the ESA


In Solidarity,

Your Unifor-Ornge Bargaining Committee
Mark Etherington, Chairperson
Keith Simons, Northern Bases
Geoffrey Brown, Southern Bases
Denise Cochrane, Assistant to the Local President
Kelly-Anne Orr, National Staff Representative



For more information, please contact:
Denise Cochrane, Assistant to the Local President



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