Paramedic Self-Regulation is Finally Coming
May 31, 2017
May 28 - June 3 is National Paramedic Services Week. It’s a time for us to thank paramedics and recognize them for their contributions to our public health services.
It’s also time for us to note some significant changes coming to the profession, as self-regulation for Manitoba paramedics takes a step closer to becoming reality.
On November 23, 2016, I joined Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen to announce that Reg Toews would be working with stakeholders to develop a path forward for self-regulation. Over the past several months Mr. Toews has met with stakeholders to find out how to best implement an independent paramedic college. On behalf of more than a thousand paramedics represented by the MGEU, I also took the opportunity to share what I’ve been hearing from our members.
Our union is a long-time supporter of self-regulation and the creation of an independent College of Paramedicine. This will ensure that all paramedics who arrive in a medical emergency have the same skills and experience to save your life. We also believe it will improve patient care by providing more consistency, transparency, and accountability in delivering emergency care.
I’m pleased to see just how closely Mr. Toews examined self-regulation in the report he released to government on April 10, 2017. He met with 15 different groups/organizations and came up with three options for the minister to consider in how to bring self-regulation online.
Our paramedic members are particularly interested in the report’s details about who will receive a seat on the Council and Transitional Council. The Council will guide the independent college and could consist of up to 15 people. The report recommends that it include a representative from the Provincial Office of the Medical Director, paramedics, someone from the Paramedic Association of Manitoba, a member of the public, and a fire fighter paramedic. It’s unclear why fire fighter paramedics were singled out in this way, especially since the report also states, “From a college perspective it is not relevant what other employment a paramedic may have. The college’s only concern is that the paramedic is appropriately qualified and licensed to be a paramedic.” The MGEU doesn’t feel it’s necessary to have a specific seat for fire fighter paramedics as the other seats are not specifically labeled.
I also know that some paramedics are asking about who will pay for the professional fees associated with being a member of the college. A number of other professions within our union have successfully negotiated employer-paid professional fees into their collective agreements. Though such provisions are not in agreements for our paramedics, we believe all Manitoba paramedics should be treated fairly and equally and our bargaining committees will present a strong case for employer-paid fees at our bargaining tables.
It’s taken paramedics a long time to get to where we are today, but there is still a lot of work ahead of us before we see paramedic self-regulation in Manitoba. I want to thank our members for their persistence, patience and dedication to their jobs and advocating for self-regulation to improve patient safety and outcomes.