Effort to be named essential service fails

“This petition does not meet the requirements of the Recall and Initiative Act and is unsuccessful …”

An effort by paramedics to be deemed an essential service and get the same collective bargaining rights as firefighters and police officers has failed.

Elections BC released a statement yesterday saying that Fire and Police Services Collective Bargaining Act contained insufficient signatures to proceed further in the initiative petition process.

Chief Electoral Officer Keith Archer said “under the Recall and Initiative Act, signatures of at least 10 percent of the registered voters in each of the province’s 85 current electoral districts were required.

“The proponent has not submitted sufficient signatures on the petition sheets, therefore our office has determined that this petition does not meet the requirements of the Recall and Initiative Act and is unsuccessful,” said Archer.

The initiative petition was issued to the proponent, Joshua Russell Henshaw, on Jan. 9.

There were 1,435 voters registered as canvassers to collect signatures for the petition over a 90-day period. The petition was submitted to Elections BC on April 10.

The initiative proponent and initiative advertising sponsor must each file a financial disclosure report with the Chief Electoral Officer on or before 4:30 p.m. on Monday, May 8.

Penticton paramedic Chantel Reems explained to the Penticton Western News as the signature drive got underway that the aim of the effort was to provide better service to communities by ensuring there would be no striking.

“If this goes through it would take a little bit of pressure off of us. If the current bargaining unit we are in, the hospital workers, go on strike right now we couldn’t actually deliver a patient to the hospital because we would be crossing a picket line. Making us an essential service alleviates a lot of stress for us and eventually it would mean we would be giving better service to communities, which is important. We don’t want big wait times,” said Reems.

Paramedics were forced back on the job with back-to-work legislation from the province in late 2009 with a three per raise after a bitter strike.

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