Ornge Bargaining Update

Ornge Bargaining Update

August 31, 2021 at 4:00 PM


As communicated in our previous correspondence to the membership, we have a conciliation date set for Thursday September 2, 2021. The conciliation meeting will be chaired by Senior Mediator, Kate Karn.

Your Unifor Committee wanted to take a moment to review the bargaining process and the possible directions moving forward.

The Bargaining Committee initiated this round of negotiations by following the usual process of sending out a survey, followed by base visits. Part way through the 2020 base visits, the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, thereby mandating the remaining base visits to be conducted by Zoom Videoconferences.

Bargaining with the company began via Zoom and Microsoft Teams in June 2020. To date we have met on more than thirty occurrences. From the early stages, the Employer took the position that Bill-124 would guide all monetary discussions. Most of the thirty sessions involved discussions of critically important language issues such as initial education, continuing education, staffing/scheduling and duty out. Significant improvements were made in these areas.

A new tentative agreement was brought to the membership for ratification earlier in 2021, however, was rejected by 56 percent.

Following the failed ratification vote, the Unifor Bargaining Committee held several Zoom videoconferences with the membership to get a better idea of which components of the agreement failed to meet expectations.



In the fall of 2020, it was recognized Unifor and Ornge did not have a signed Essential Services Agreement as mandated by the Essential Services Agreement Bargaining Act. In fact, it was noted there had never been a signed ESA in the past. Following meetings with the Employer and the Ontario Labour Relations Board, an ESA order was written and issued on August 4, 2021. This document outlines what a labour disruption would look like.

Unifor National President Jerry Dias was able to arrange a meeting with Treasury Board President and Minster of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy. During this meeting it was emphasized that Ornge Paramedics would be at a disadvantage as the overwhelming majority of Ontario Paramedics are not covered by Bill-124. We also argued our ability to recruit and retain staff will be affected by this legislation. Unifor also argued the paltry amount allowed for psychological counselling and other Mental Health issues would be severely limited to Premier Doug Fords "heroes". The Bargaining Committee was disappointed with the Ford government’s categorical denial of exemption from Bill-124.

Following the Ontario Labour Relations Board issuing the ESA, the Employer applied for conciliation. Senior Mediator Kate Karn was appointed and a conciliation date of September 2, 2021, was set.



The Bargaining Committee has met several times in preparation for conciliation. It is Unifor’s position that we have listened to the membership and believe a mutually beneficial agreement can be reached. We have informed the Employer we will enter conciliation on September 2, 2021, with a renewed commitment to achieving a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Employer does not share our optimism and believes they will pursue a "no board" on September 2nd. When a "no board" is declared, a union is in a legal strike position 17 days later. We would either enter a labour disruption or agree to go to Binding Arbitration.

It is the goal of the Unifor Bargaining Committee to use the conciliation process to convince the Employer of the mutual benefits of a ratified Collective Agreement. We believe we can bring a slightly altered CBA back to the membership for a ratification vote that will be accepted.

Ornge Paramedics have worked tirelessly to ensure the patients of Ontario receive the best care available. Our Unifor members deserve better than to be shackled by the constraints of Bill-124; government legislation that interferes to freely bargain a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.


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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