EDMONTON — The Alberta College of Paramedics voted unanimously to fire an eight-person committee that tried to stop a paramedic from returning to work after he admitted to having post-traumatic stress disorder.
In May 2015, paramedic Dave McAllister spoke out about how he was having difficulty getting his license back even after receiving treatment for PTSD. Eventually McAllister was able to return to work, though the Registration Committee did not agree with the decision. The committee members are appointed by the College and oversee the licensing of paramedics in the province.
For the last few months, the Registration Committee and the College of Paramedics have been in conflict with one another over McAllister’s file, as well as other similar files.
It all came to a head this week, when the college voted unanimously to terminate all eight members of the committee, effective Jan. 22.
“Over the last six months we find ourselves in a situation where we’re pretty convinced the Registration Committee has been operating outside their authority,” said deputy registrar Becky Donelon.
Donelon would not elaborate on what that means or provide an example. She admitted the decision “has some connections, of course,” to the McAllister file.
The two sides went through provincial mediation, but nothing was resolved.
“We believe that the people on the Registration Committee – they’re wonderful people, they’re good practitioners and good employees of this college – and somehow we’ve arrived at a situation where I believe they’re misunderstanding their authority,” said Donelon.
Global News spoke to a committee member, who wishes to remain anonymous over concerns about his employment. He will be referred to as “Kevin.”
Kevin said, when it comes to the McAllister file, the committee wanted to do their due diligence and ensure the paramedic was ready to treat patients again. He said they wanted a note from McAllister’s psychologist, but one wasn’t initially provided.
Kevin said Donelon and other college leaders intervened in a decision that should have been left to the committee.
“They stepped outside of the process that has been in place for 30 years,” he said.
According to Kevin, the group is being let go in the middle of a review into its alleged wrongdoings.
“They have an investigation going on, the investigation has not been completed, yet they’ve still sent out a letter saying we’re terminated,” Kevin said.
Donelon said if committee members don’t want to be fired, they can resign before the Jan. 22 deadline.
Kevin said that action amounts to bullying.
“That’s very concerning that they feel like they’re being bullied. That’s certainly not the intent of council or administration,” said Donelon.
“We’ve spent time across the table with the Registration Committee, trying to understand what is going on, how we got to a committee operating outside its authority and just cannot seem to resolve this issue with the committee for them to remain on task.”
An interim registration committee has already been set up to try and maintain business as usual during the turnover.
“We work hard to make sure there are not any implications on public safety,” said Donelon. “That is our task.”
The decision does not mean the committee members are losing their day jobs; they will only lose their committee positions and related honorariums.
Committee members have acquired a lawyer and plan to pursue legal action.
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