Advertisement

Union representing Winnipeg paramedics wants out of joint workplace with firefighters

Click to play video: 'Union representing Winnipeg paramedics wants out of joint workplace with firefighters' Union representing Winnipeg paramedics wants out of joint workplace with firefighters
The union representing paramedics in Winnipeg is asking the city to move paramedics out of Winnipeg fire halls. Global's Malika Karim reports – Mar 14, 2021

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.

“An email or a memo had gone out from the [United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg], which caused some major concerns and the challenges for the paramedics,” Michelle Gawronsky said in a letter to Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman and the city’s interim chief administrative officer, Mike Ruta Sunday.

“It was the reference to ‘justice will be done.'”

Story continues below advertisement

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.

Read more: Winnipeg firefighters’ ‘racial bias’ prevented help for Indigenous patient: report

Monday, Forrest told Global News that the comment is actually about defending members in the disciplinary process, and not meant to intimidate paramedics.

He also said his union is “100 per cent in support of MGEU’s request to remove the ambulance paramedics from the fire halls.”

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.”

Story continues below advertisement

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.”

Click to play video: 'Firefighter union request alleged racist video footage be made public' Firefighter union request alleged racist video footage be made public
Firefighter union request alleged racist video footage be made public – Feb 24, 2021

The MGEU noted that paramedics have previously brought forward issues with firefighters since first moving into fire halls.

Story continues below advertisement

“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.

Sponsored content