West Kootenay-Boundary and rural paramedics left behind by Campbell Liberals
VICTORIA — The Campbell Liberals have left paramedics in West Kootenay-Boundary and other rural BC areas behind, forcing a struggle to keep well trained and experienced paramedics in our region, MLA Katrine Conroy said today.
"The Health Ministry has done some reclassification of areas from rural to urban, however none of those fall in our area, which means it is more profitable for paramedics to go to work in metropolitan centres," said Conroy. "In rural communities throughout the Kootenays and the rest of BC, paramedics are still paid very little for being on call in the community. This leaves huge gaps in service between rural and urban parts of the province."
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 disparity 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 West Kootenay-Boundary constituency.
"Given the pay structure, paramedics are choosing to work in urban and metropolitan areas to maximize their earning potential," Conroy said. "We need to encourage paramedics to stay in the Kootenays so that those who live here 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," concluded Conroy. "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."