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City to examine paramedics’ low morale

TORONTO – Toronto city council answered its paramedics’ 911 call

Toronto Sun June 11, 2015 Shawn Jeffords

TORONTO – Toronto city council answered its paramedics’ 911 call.

In a unanimous vote Thursday, councillors asked city staff to prepare a report on the complaints of low morale in the Toronto Paramedic Service. About a hundred paramedics, clad in matching T-shirts, watched as city council quickly adopted the motion by Councillor Jim Karygiannis.

Paramedics

Paramedics watch Thursday’s council debate before council voted to ask the city manager to investigate a union report on “poor morale” at Toronto Paramedic Services. (Don Peat/Toronto Sun)

The morale problems were recently documented in a report prepared by the EMS unit of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 416 called “Crisis in the Workplace — Identifying the Issues and Resolutions of Poor Morale.”

The report paints a grim picture of paramedics’ morale. Offload delay issues in hospitals, stagnant workforce growth and increasing call volumes and workload are just a few of the roughly 30 “stressors” that were identified by paramedics.

Matt Alloway, unit chair for the union local, called a staff report into the issue a “first step.”

“It gives us the recognition there is a potential problem here, let’s look into that,” Alloway said. “Hopefully, then we can work together to create a plan to move that issue forward so we can repair that.”

Poor morale has been an issue at the service for a decade, but he’s optimistic it can be addressed, he said.

“It’s not about money, it’s not about bargaining,” Alloway said. “It’s nothing of that sort. It’s all about the people that we work with and the people we serve.”

Karygiannis said he was happy city staff are going to look into the problems.

“When we dial 911, they’re the first ones to respond,” he said. “They dialed 911 and the employer, the city, and especially the city councillors, responded unanimously so I’m ecstatic.”

Even before he was elected to council last fall, he was hearing about problems in the EMS service, Karygiannis said, adding this will help paramedics have their voices heard.

“The paramedics for the first time in a very long time will be able to air their concerns,” he said. “Us, as employers, will have to respond to what they’ve brought up.”

Toronto Paramedic Service management could not be reached for comment.

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