Toronto paramedics remain non-essential

City’s executive board waits to make decision until after labour dispute
||Last Updated: 01/27/2012

Members of the City of Toronto’s executive committee believe the city’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is an essential service, but refused to make the declaration at a Jan. 24 meeting.

Making Toronto EMS essential — like its police, fire and transit workers — would exempt workers from future work stoppages.

The 13-person committee said a city staff report is needed before a final decision can be made. The report would establish the advantages and disadvantages of such a designation. Research is also needed to determine “where the money might come from… how much it might cost us,” Toronto councilor Giorgio Mammoliti told the Toronto Sun.

The council also said making a decision now would interfere with ongoing negotiations between the city and its outside workers. Their contract expired on Dec. 31, 2011.

The Ontario Labour Relations Board issued a “no board” report on Jan. 19 after the city said talks with the workers’ union, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 416 had failed. The report means the union can strike or the city can lock out workers on Feb. 5.

CUPE Local 416 represents about 6,000 city employees, including garbage collectors, road and parks maintenance workers, animal control officers and paramedics.

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