Quebec paramedics feel unheard in fight for fair pay, better working conditions

Quebec paramedics feel unheard in fight for fair pay, better working conditions

By Michael Boriero

Paramedics across Quebec are starting to press down on the gas and increase pressure tactics, as they grow tired of waiting for the provincial government to present a suitable collective agreement at the negotiation table.

On Tuesday, the Travailleurs ambulanciers syndiqués de Beauce inc. (TASBI) announced paramedics in Lac-Mégantic, Lambton and La Patrie will enter an indefinite general strike starting at midnight. The union stressed that it is purely an administrative strike.

Daniel Piette, a paramedic at the Groupe Cambi in Cowansville, told The Record that his union, the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), will also consider a shift in tactics, if the Quebec government fails to respond to their negotiation requests on Wednesday.

According to Piette, paramedics have been working without a new collective agreement since March 2020. He said they waited to negotiate because of the pandemic. But the government hasn’t been entirely cooperative, he explained, adding it’s time to apply pressure.

“The surface is still the same. We get a call, we do our stuff, we do the same work, we save lives, we do everything we have to do […] we answer all the calls just like usual, the only thing is when we get to the hospital, we don’t do as much stuff over there,” said Piette.

One of the tactics used by paramedics since engaging in a strike action this past summer is to not go the extra mile in hospitals. Piette said they will transport a patient to the front doors and pass them off to a nurse. Paramedics used to carry patients to their designated hospital bed.

“Unfortunately, we’re putting pressure on the nurses, too, but we’ve got to put pressure on somebody that brings the message up there, because the messages that we’re sending, nobody responds,” said Piette, who has been working as a paramedic for 31 years.

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