After being officially reclassified as medical science professionals over a year ago, some New Brunswick paramedics say they have yet to receive the retroactive pay promised to them.
One paramedic tells CTV Atlantic some have been underpaid, overpaid — or entire pay cheques have been late. And in some cases, the discrepancy amounts to thousands of dollars.
Medavie Health Services, the organization that oversees Ambulance New Brunswick (ANB), confirms it’s had some issues, although didn’t say how many paramedics have been affected.
“We continue to work diligently with our partners at Finance and Treasury Board and the New Brunswick Union to ensure the situation is resolved as quickly and effectively as possible,” said Christianna Williston, a spokesperson for ANB.
“As we work with our partners to finalize some outstanding items, we feel that we are getting closer to a common understanding, and we hope to have a more detailed update for staff shortly.”
After the reclassification, paramedics became members of the New Brunswick Union (NBU), which confirmed it’s working with ANB to resolve the issues.
“It’s an unfortunate situation and one that certainly has an impact on our members. We’ve been in constant contact with ANB trying to help them get this resolved as quickly as possible,” said NBU president Susie Proulx-Daigle.
“Paramedics continue to do a great job amidst all of the obstacles in front of them. They are true professionals.”
While the Department of Finance says it’s been assisting with the situation, a spokesperson says ANB is responsible for “processing payroll for paramedics, including any retroactive payments.”
Opposition critics say on top of everything paramedics are experiencing day-to-day, they shouldn’t have to worry about their pay.
And there is concern this situation doesn’t send the right message to health-care workers, especially when trying to retain the ones already working in the system.
“Like the old saying, ‘You get what you pay for,’ and if you’re not ready to be there and care for your employees, pay your employees, they’re going to find better work elsewhere,” said Liberal Rob McKee.
“If we don’t address these labour issues, we’re not going to be able to successfully keep or recruit employees, especially in the health-care sector.”
The N.B. Green Party has advocated for ANB to move under the public sector. Party leader David Coon says it’s a question of ensuring good governance is in place — something he says is lacking.
“We believe that the management of the ambulance service, and the Extra-Mural nurses for that matter, should be done by public servants,” said Coon.
“It should be part of the public system and not contracted out to the private sector in the form of Medavie. That’s what we’ve got. That creates gaps between the public service and the private sector management of it, and I think that’s part of what’s going on here.”
Paramedics were officially reclassified in May of 2021, after former Health Minister Ted Flemming announced in 2019 that paramedics should be better recognized for the specialized role they have in the healthcare system.
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