Rural BC Paramedics Being Left Behind By the Campbell Liberals and Health Minister
VICTORIA - The Minister of Health and the Campbell government have missed the point, and come up short in addressing rural BC’s paramedics issues of pay rates and training. Reclassifying ten communities as urban centres and making a minor increase in training money still doesn’t address the root cause of paramedic shortages throughout the province said Cariboo-South MLA Charlie Wyse today.
“While classification differences between remote, rural and urban paramedics is important on the pay scale side of the equation, it does not address the fact that it is far more profitable for a paramedic to work in a metropolitan centre. ,” said Wyse. “In rural communities throughout the Cariboo, paramedics are still paid very little for being on call in the community. This leaves huge gaps in service between rural and urban areas of BC.”
Remote paramedics are paid two dollars an hour to wear a pager on call, and are paid to scale when called upon. Rural paramedics are paid ten dollars an hour to be on call, while urban and metropolitan paramedics are paid to scale from the moment they are on call for their shift. This is a disparity that does little to promote rural and remote retention of paramedics.
The Ministry of Health reclassified some centres in the province from rural to urban. Ten communities were fortunate to get the designation, however none of the communities given the reclassification were in the Cariboo-South constituency.
“Given the pay structure, paramedics are choosing to work in urban and metropolitan areas to maximize their earning potential,” said Wyse. “We need to encourage paramedics to stay in the smaller communities so that those who live in these areas have adequate access to paramedic services.”
“Another key component to the rural and remote paramedic issue that the New Democrat Opposition and the Interior Rural Caucus pushed for was money for training,” Wyse said. “While the minister agreed to put more money into the training pot, it didn’t go far enough and rural and remote paramedics still lose their wage while training.”