Pay increase good for enrolment numbers
JAMES DOROSHUK, CONTRIBUTOR
An arbitrator recently awarded Winnipeg emergency medical responders a 10.5 per cent wage increase — good news for the paramedicine-primary care paramedic (PCP) program at RRC. “We can definitely anticipate more enrolment,” said Erik McCall, PCP program instructor. “For many of our graduates, the goal is to work in a major urban centre, and pay obviously comes in to play in that decision.”
The City of Winnipeg recently finalized details of a contract with the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union (MGEU) that represents Winnipeg paramedics.
The bump in pay and benefits comes after the union had been without a contract since December 2013.
The PCP is in its seventh year and accepts 40 students annually. Right now, McCall said the wait time for the program is two years.
This year, the course offers a new stream called the advanced care paramedic (ACP) program. It can train up to 16 students. Previously, the only available training for ACPs was through the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service. ACPs have a higher level of training and are better suited to administer certain drugs.
While PCPs are trained for most urgent-care situations, ACPs have a higher degree of knowledge in certain areas, such as infant care and drug administration.
A consultants report in 2013 to the Manitoba government stated, “The objective of the WFPS is to have an ACP on each ambulance.” Numbers from that report showed that from 2009 to 2012, there were 1092 PCPs trained. Only 96 ACPs graduated in the same span.
ACPs are currently in extremely short supply in the rural health regions, something RRC’s ACP program hopes to remedy.
“We are designed to send more ACPs to rural areas,” said McCall. “In those areas, you can have patient transport times of up to an hour with no advanced care.”
Clint Kennington, 33, works for the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority as a PCP. He says that rural paramedics have wanted wage parity with Winnipeg paramedics for years. “The city paramedics say that their call volume is higher, so we shouldn’t be paid the same as them,” said Kennington. “They have an ACP looking over their shoulder at every call and they’re always 10 minutes away from a hospital, so they might have less responsibility than I do.”
Wage parity is something McCall agrees with. “Whether you’re a nurse in Winnipeg or elsewhere, you’re paid the same,” he said. “I’d like to see something similar for paramedics.”