EMS Section 21 sub-committee achieves official committee status

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The following email was sent to all OPSEU/SEFPO Ambulance Division members on February 28, 2023.

Dear OPSEU/SEFPO Ambulance Division members,

We are proud to announce that the Section 21 Emergency Medical Services (EMS) sub-committee representing your health and safety interests with the Ministry of Labour has achieved committee status! This achievement comes after 10+ years of advocating for a standalone Paramedic Section 21 committee to have a stronger voice on providing guidance for paramedics’ health and safety.

The EMS sub-committee of the Health Care Section 21 Committee was formed in 2007 to develop guidance notes for all paramedic services organizations to ensure compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and to share best practices. The sub-committee consisted of representatives from the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs, OPSEU/SEFPO, Unifor, CUPE and SEIU, who will now sit on the Paramedic Section 21 committee.

Since the sub-committee’s inception, we have advocated for full committee status with the assigned Minister of Labour under each government. Now, as a standalone committee, we have gained recognition for the unique differences between the work of paramedics as part of first response teams and the work of healthcare workers assigned to fixed locations.

Over the  years, the committee members have maintained that work done by paramedics is more closely aligned with that of other first responders; as such, we consistently fought for parity with Police and Fire Services, each of which have a Section 21 committee, to better reflect the role of our members as first responders.

The Paramedic Section 21 committee will be preparing for a joint meeting on March 2nd with the Police and Fire Section 21 committees and the Minister of Labour to discuss first responder mental health, the WSIB health and safety index, and respiratory protection.

We look forward to continuing our work advocating for your health and safety.

In solidarity,

Joel Usher, OPSEU/SEFPO Ambulance Division Chair
Dave Doran, OPSEU/SEFPO Ambulance Division Section 21 Representative