An independent arbitrator says the City of Ottawa violated its collective agreement with the union representing Ottawa paramedics and has ordered the city to reinstate the end-of-shift policy.
After making changes to its deployment model following an order by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC), the city decided to rescind the end-of-shift policy, which placed paramedic vehicles out of service during the last 30 minutes of a shift so paramedics could restock ambulances and complete their paperwork.
Metro News reports arbitrator Brian Sheehan finds the decision led to an increase in overtime hours, as paramedics were required to be available for calls until the last minute of their shifts, and then often had to complete end-of-shift duties while on overtime. Sheehan determined this violates the collective agreement.
“Accordingly, I ordered the Employer to make such changes as are required in order to allow for paramedics to be able to complete their duties within the standard hours of work,” Metro News reports Sheehan wrote in his award and subsequently gave Ottawa 60 days to reinstate the policy.
Officials say time is needed to assess Sheehan’s directive.
“Staff require time to meaningfully assess its operational impacts and, as such, will have no further comment at this time,” Ottawa Paramedic Service Acting Chief Peter Kelly wrote, according to Metro News, in a memo to city council, but said they will, “make any adjustments necessary to ensure the continued provision of seamless emergency medical care.”
According to Metro News, the dispute stems from events Aug. 6, 2016, when 13 calls from Ottawa were assigned to ambulances in other counties.
An investigation by the MOHLTC found the dispatch center was, “using all of the tools available to them to dispatch the closest ambulance.”
However, according to Metro News, the investigation did find the end-of-shift policy, among others, reduced “the availability of ambulance resources” and put the communication center “in default of their performance agreement with the province of Ontario.”
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