BC Emergency Health Services is introducing a new “scheduled on call” model for paramedics, including those in Castlegar, Nelson, and Trail. File photo

Pay guarantee removed for some Kootenay on-call paramedics

Guarantee phased out as BCEHS introduces a new “scheduled on call” model

The way on-call paramedics are getting paid in a number of small towns across the province including Castlegar, Nelson, Trail, Creston, Cranbrook and Invermere changed on Monday.

In 2017, BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) brought in measures to help stabilize staffing in rural and remote communities including the “kilo guarantee.” The measure ensured that staff on kilo (on call) shifts would receive a minimum of four hours pay regardless of whether they received a call-out or not. Prior to the guarantee, paramedics received $2 an hour if they were on call and didn’t get sent out.

Now, some paramedics will be going back to that $2 an hour plan as the guarantee is phased out.

However, BCEHS says a new “scheduled on call” model will see hundreds of new, scheduled positions, with benefits, in rural and remote communities that have typically relied on on-call staffing.

When and where those new positions will show up is still yet to be determined, even though the pay change has already taken effect. So, in the meanwhile, on-call paramedics in Castlegar, Nelson, Trail, Creston, Cranbrook and Invermere will only be recieving $2 an hour while they are on call.

READ MORE: Paramedics union raises alarm over spike in out-of-service ambulances

“The new collective agreement marks a major advancement in our service model, and it’s going to take some time to determine the details and make sure we get it right,” said BCEHS spokesperson Sarah Morris in response to questions regarding the placing of these new positions.

“We have been going community to community to evaluate the needs and once that work is complete we also need to respect the collective agreement in terms of adequate notification of new positions that our employees can apply for.”

BCEHS also said they didn’t have any community-level details to share at this time.

BCEHS says it is working to mitigate the impact on those employees who do on-call work by changing their dispatch process. The new process will activate on-call ambulances first for hospital transfer or inter-facility calls.

The changes are part of a collective agreement ratified by the Ambulance Paramedics and Dispatchers of B.C., (CUPE 873) last fall. BCEHS says it is working closely with CUPE 873 to implement all aspects of the agreement.

READ MORE: BC Auditor says ambulance service not meeting patient care targets

The kilo guarantee is scheduled to be completely phased out across the province by late 2021.

The 39 communities where the phase-out of the kilo guarantee has begun are: Castlegar, Trail, Cranbrook, Creston, Nelson, Central Saanich, 100 Mile House, Sidney, Osoyoos, Sooke, Penticton, Campbell River, Salmon Arm, Port Alberni, Summerland, Port Hardy, Vernon, Chemainus, Williams Lake, Courtenay, Duncan, Ladysmith, Agassiz, Invermere, Hope, Squamish, Whistler, Quesnel, Powell River, Terrace, Sechelt, Prince Rupert, Gibsons, Smithers, Chase, Dawson Creek, Merritt, Fort St. John and Oliver.

READ MORE: ‘People are dying from treatable medical conditions’



betsy.kline@castlegarnews.com

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