Effective April 1, Stanstead Ambulance will be absorbed into the Cooperative de travailleurs d’Ambulance de l’Estrie (CTAE, Eastern Townships ambulance workers cooperative).
In a joint statement, the two companies say the transition will maintain prehospital service levels throughout the Stanstead territory, while addressing labour shortage challenges that have plagued the smaller company.
“The reason for the transfer of Stanstead Ambulance to the CTAE is lack of personnel,” says general manager Jody Stone, who was also elected as Stanstead mayor last November.
Stanstead Ambulance currently has five paramedics, plus Stone as part-time general manager. The five paramedics will join the cooperative and continue to work out of the Stanstead station. Stone’s administrative position will not carry over.
Under current permits and market conditions, the company has had difficulty finding enough paramedics to replace sick days, vacation hours, or when circumstances conspire to extend a shift for too many hours straight, which triggers mandatory rest periods.
“What happens in those cases, if I can’t get employees to come in, I would have to close the zone, which is unacceptable,” Stone says.
“Because of the size of our company and the type of schedule under our permit, we’re not attractive to new paramedics. New paramedics go and work for a bigger company and, because these companies have rules where they need to be available 12 out of 14 days, those employees can’t give us availabilities because if they give us a shift then end up losing a shift in Sherbrooke, then they fall down on the list of seniority,” Stone explains.
“When we negotiated, we weren’t looking at the financial aspect of this transaction,” Stone emphasizes. “We were looking at quality of service for this community. And to guarantee our employees’ jobs. Those were the two driving factors in this decision.”