CUPE joins Ambulance New Brunswick in agreement to keep New Brunswickers in the dark
It is one thing for management and unions to agree to stop talking to the media in the midst of a labour dispute. It is often one of the things mutually agreed on as a way to dial back the rhetoric in the interests of finding common ground and reaching an agreement.
It’s an acceptable practice and most people understand it serves a purpose.
But that is a whole lot different that the agreement that has been reached between Ambulance New Brunswick and CUPE Local 4848, which represents the province’s paramedics. Under this agreement, it isn’t just contract stuff the sides have agreed to not talk to the media about. Remarkably, the union has agreed to an inappropriate request by Ambulance New Brunswick to keep the taxpayers of the province in the dark about the quality or lack thereof of the ambulance services they pay for.
Here’s Ambulance New Brunswick, under who’s watch a man died recently, at a time when a nearby ambulance wasn’t available because it was taken out of service. This is the same Ambulance New Brunswick that tried to hide the number of ambulances that were regularly taken off the roads, something the scope of which we only know about because Telegraph Journal journalists were successful in a Right to Information application to find out. It is also the same Ambulance New Brunswick that recently got an untendered 10-year contract from the Gallant government, as part of the Medavie Health Services deal that includes the Extra-Mural and Telecare 811 programs.
As with much of what the Gallant government does, the deal with Medavie is shrouded in secrecy, just like their deal with Shannex for nursing homes, and how they tried to keep under wraps the details of children who died under their care, and so many more examples.
We are used to the government and Ambulance New Brunswick trying to keep the public in the dark. But it is especially disappointing to find the paramedic union has become a complicit partner in this campaign of non-transparency. The fact apparently doesn’t even register with them, that this is the very same public that pays, through taxes, $100 million annually for ambulance service and has a right to know how it is operating.
The details of this deal are especially revealing. According to the Telegraph Journal, the union agreed to this gag order, including no more demonstrations to draw public attention to the state of ambulance service, in exchange for Ambulance New Brunswick relaxing restrictions on vacations.
Now isn’t that interesting. Vacations were restricted apparently out of necessity so enough paramedics would be available to ensure a safe level of service. But now, as long as CUPE doesn’t say anything publicly about that level of service, all of a sudden it is OK to lift these restrictions. I’m all for employees getting their deserved vacations, but how does this compute?
This screams pretty loudly that all that talk from the union that people’s lives were at risk, wasn’t out of concern for the quality of the service, but was rather just a bargaining ploy. Shame on CUPE for that. Let’s not hear them ever again claim the moral high ground that their concern is for the public.
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