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EHS will have to make due if N.S. paramedics strike

HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s labour minister says the provincial government will introduce a bill Friday when the legislature reconvenes to deal with a possible labour disruption involving the province’s 800 paramedics.

Frank Corbett declined to elaborate on the legislation, though he said if the paramedics walk off the job Saturday, the safety of Nova Scotians would be affected and the government can’t allow that.

“It’s the last position I thought I would be in” Health Minister David Wilson told Global News Thursday afternoon.

“It’s an unfortunate situation we’re in today, but our number one concern is the safety of Nova Scotians and their ability to gain access to emergency care when emergencies happen here in the province,” he said.

The biggest concern now is that the union is refusing to provide essential services, and Emergency Health Services will have to do the best they can with what resources they have.

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“It won’t come without its challenges” said EHS spokesperson Jeff Fraser.  “We will have about 30 units that will deploy throughout the province. It’s been made a bit more challenging because the union wouldn’t give us any type of essential services which presents a number of obstacles I have to work around.

Paramedics who are members of Local 727, of the International Union of Operating Engineers, said they are forced to stand their ground.

They say it’s an insult that the critical components of their demands have not been met, in any of the three proposals put before them.

“The concern is always there” says Local 727 business manager Terry Chapman.

“To be fair, the employer put us in this position,” Chapman said, when talking about the possible victims that might suffer as a result of slow medical response times. “In our opinion… it’s up to them to find a resolution to [the dispute]. So, any down factors as a result of what we’re doing should be laid on their shoulders.”

While EHS is in the final stages of completing its contingency plan, there is still hope that a conciliator will help broker a last minute deal.

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*With files from The Canadian Press

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