N.S. government steps in to avoid paramedic strike

Agreement to be achieved through binding arbitration

The province of Nova Scotia has passed a bill to avert a possible paramedic strike.

"Government's role is to protect the health and safety of Nova Scotians," said Labour and Advanced Education Minister Frank Corbett. "We take that responsibility seriously and the province passed a bill to prevent people from being put at risk by a labour dispute. There was no prospect of the employer, Emergency Medical Care, and the union negotiating an agreement. With no emergency services offered by the union, legislation was necessary."

The Ambulance Services Continuation (2013) Act will lead to an agreement through binding arbitration, final offer selection, to ensure a fair solution for all parties. Both parties must submit a final offer to an arbitrator who will hear their arguments and select one of the offers. The union and employer have 30 days to agree on an arbitrator, who would then have 90 days to make a decision, according to the Canadian Press.

Terry Chapman, the chief negotiator for Local 727 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, told the Canadian Press the legislation takes away their collective bargaining rights.

“It doesn’t sit well with us as a trade union that either government or any aspect of government would take it upon themselves (to) drastically interfere with the process,” Chapman said.

The government said it’s important the work of paramedics can be continued uninterrupted.

"This government supports the principles of collective bargaining and believes paramedics deserve a fair wage. But, our first priority is to protect the health and safety of Nova Scotians," said Corbett.

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