Request to the Ministers: Exhausted Paramedic’s pleas fall on deaf ears

The Alberta Paramedic Association (the Association) has been working behind the scenes on the issue of Core-Flex and its elimination across the province. The Association sent out two letters on March 13, 2019 to Minister Gray and Minister Hoffman urging them not to issue any variances to hours of work after our research revealed significant paramedic health and wellness implications. We asked the ministers to consult the Association prior to making any exceptions to the updated safer work legislation that applies to all other health professions. We have not received a response to date and sadly we were recently made aware of a Ministerial Variance signed by Minister Gray, authorising the continued use of the core/flex model that empirically risks Paramedics health and wellness.

This variance allows for an exemption from the current employment legislation. Some of the wording is not clear to us at this time. Our attention however, focuses on section 43.86(3)(c)(i),(ii) of the Employment Standards Regulation (regulation). The regulation identifies a requirement to consult with either the representative bargaining unit or employees when applications for variances are made to the Minister. This would indicate that either the  bargaining unit or individuals were consulted in this process. We have yet to be in contact with a single core/flex practicing paramedic that was included in the consultation process.

The Association will continue to lobby hard to resolve this risk and move forward a culture of Paramedic health and wellness.

It is important for you to be informed. Please read the attached letters and see the signed variance by Minister Gray. If you wish, offer your comments on Twitter or Facebook. If you feel that this may be something of value related to election issues, post something within the April 16, 2019 Election section on our website home page. As part of our consultation, we’d like to know what matters to you.

What Paramedics are saying:

“I just can’t believe it’s 2019 and we are still scheduled to work 96 hours with no rest period. How is this not illegal?” – Marc

“It is impossible to raise a baby and work 96 hours straight (core/flex). I want to have kids but I know that means ending my career. I shouldn’t have to lose my job because I want to be a mom” – Abby

“I have seen first hand how the extra 8 minute response time used in the core/flex shift can effect patient outcome” – Ashley

“I actually watched my partner nod off right in front of a patient. He didn’t even realize it happened. We had been awake for 25 hours” – Chris

“I could write a book about the dangers of core/flex. Trying to do drug calculations when i’ve been awake 15, 18, 20… sometimes 30 hours is disastrous. I don’t know how much longer I can go on” – Tammy

“I absolutely HATE having to shut down my communities only ambulance beacuse I have worked all day and night with no sleep. I have family that lives here too.” – Nicole

“We all know it has an impact on patient care. Our patients deserve us well rested and ready to go” – Kelly

“Core/flex is a joke. This should be a hard stand by every {Paramedic} to stop it” – Richard

4 thoughts on “Request to the Ministers: Exhausted Paramedic’s pleas fall on deaf ears

  1. We are failing to protect the public by allowing core/ flex to negate practitioners (these humans) stress mitigation strategies. Be that seeing family, or relaxing after a 12 hr shift in a book, our ability to self care after extreme events are not possible with the current system. Thus leading to increase incidences of burn out, medication errors, and motor vehicle accidents/ near miss events. When you have a radio on you 24/7 there is no turning off, there is only the perpetual state of readiness that degrades your ability to fully recover after a stressful and hectic call. Not to mention the broken sleep schedule where you have 3 hours of sleep here, then work 9 hours, sleep for another 4 hours and work for 16 hours straight on car, then do it all over again. The level of care is laughable at that point, and therefore by allowing core flex to exist and negating ones ability to de-stress and rest, the governing body is FAILING to protect the public. Increasing the incidences and duration of PTSD, and ultimately costing the health care system far more in mental health support to burnt out practitioners.

    Thank you guys at the APA for doing this. Even the hope that comes from someone fighting for it makes a huge difference to alot of people. Its nice to know its not on deaf ears, and instead of just sucking it up, we are evolving and changing for the coming increased load of the future.

  2. I would also like to thank the APA for this. These days there aren’t many organizations looking out for our well being.

  3. Unfortunately the people reviewing and signing work linear shifts such as Mon-Fri/9-5 and cant possibly empathize with the inhumane core/flex schedule. Absolutely destructive.

  4. Core Flex in today’s system is not sustainable, and it unfortunate that it seems that the only way for it to change is something terrible to happen.

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