Montreal's paramedics go on strike Christmas Eve
Published Monday, December 24, 2012 1:35PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 25, 2012 4:04PM EST
MONTREAL—After increasing tensions and a fleet of ambulances plastered in stickers, the 885 paramedics that serve Montreal and Laval went on strike at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, hours later they mounted their first pressure tactics on Rene-Levesque Blvd.
After weeks of bruising negotiations between the Quebec government and Urgences Sante, talks for a new contract broke off on Sunday afternoon. Both sides said they needed more time to gather information.
“There will be no effect on the public whatsoever due to us being an essential service,” said Urgences Sante spokesman David Sasson. “There will be 100 per cent effectives on the road. When you call 911 we will be responsible and we will do our best like we do every time.
“The paramedics will take you the hospital if needed and there is no reason whatsoever to not call 911 for a serious issues.”
With medics defined as an essential service, the strike will not impact the number of ambulances on the streets or the number of calls answered. According to the paramedics’ union, response times could become better as a result of striking administrative staff.
Since November, medics have refused to take intern out with them as a form of work-to-rule pressure. Administrative tactics are expected to continue until an agreement is reached.
Affiliated with the CSN, the union is fighting the Quebec government for fewer pay grades as well as better funding of retirement funds. Over the past decade, call volumes for first responders in Montreal and Laval have doubled to 1,000 calls daily.