The union representing paramedics in Winnipeg is asking the city to move paramedics out of Winnipeg fire halls.
The president of the Manitoba Government and General Employees Union (MGEU) said she’s heard concerns that the workplaces have been hostile and intimidating, making it difficult, and impossible for many paramedics.
“It was the reference to ‘justice will be done.'”
The memo sent by the president of the UFFW, Alex Forrest, stated that the four firefighters who were placed on administrative leave after an external investigation found they had showed implicit bias and lack of concern for a seriously injured Indigenous patient, while refusing to help paramedics on scene perform their duties, will soon return to work.
Gawronsky says the reference to “justice will be done” made paramedics in the unit feel intimidated. She said it’s as though there’s a belief that the findings of the independent review were incorrect.
Monday, Forrest told Global News that the comment is actually about defending members in the disciplinary process, and not meant to intimidate paramedics.
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In a written response to the MGEU’s request, Bowman said the union should follow through on their commitment towards greater dialogue with all parties involved.
“It is not time to try and have more conversations or to try and move things around,” Gawronsky said. “Let’s address the problems, let’s get them solved, get resolved, and let’s move forward.”
The city later sent Global News this statement:
“Given that the ambulance service is owned by the province of Manitoba and contracted to the city, and the fact we are in year five (5) without a contract, this would be best addressed by the provincial Minister of Health who has yet to publicly share the provincial government’s plans for ambulance services in the city of Winnipeg.”
The mayor’s office says it’s the Manitoba government’s responsibility to create a plan for the ambulance service.
The MGEU disagrees. Gawronsky said the union believes it’s the city’s responsibility to provide safe workplaces for their employees.
“This isn’t the time to be playing political hot potato with our paramedics in the city of Winnipeg,” Gawronsky said, “Right now, the city of Winnipeg is their employer. And as so they have the responsibility to be making sure that all paramedics feel safe, secure, and appreciated within their workplaces.”
The MGEU noted that paramedics have previously brought forward issues with firefighters since first moving into fire halls.
“You know 99.9 per cent of the firemen that are out there are respectful and they’re willing and able to work with the paramedics and they welcome the paramedics,” Gawronsky said. “But you know, all it takes is is one or two, five or six, 10 bullies within a workplace that can definitely cause some major problems.”
Global News reached out to the province for comment following the Mayor’s office’s statement.
“As this is an internal operational matter for the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service and not under provincial jurisdiction, we will decline comment,“ a government spokesperson said.