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

Professional Fatigue Project: Call to Action (Part 2), The College of Paramedics Responds

Thursday, November 29th, the Alberta Paramedic Association released part one of an impact study investigating the effect of extended on-call shifts on the health and wellness of the paramedic.

During that research, there were major risks to the public identified. Public protection is the role of the Alberta College of Paramedics, therefore we provided the college with the urgent public risk findings on the very same day. The Alberta College of Paramedics has provided a response to the Association that we want to share with you.

In the letter from College President, council identifies “As the regulator, our jurisdiction is over practitioners and their conduct when providing care…” However she later goes on to state; “… the College is unable to intervene in matters of workplace conditions.”

This is an unacceptable position for the College to take on a serious public risk. “Without proper regulation, paramedicine will unfortunatly experience a fatigue driven tragedy” Association President Dusty Myshrall writes, “Don’t wait for a fatality to happen”.

The letters can be viewed below

Bill 21 – Association Members are Protected!

Bill 21: An Act to Protect Patients was passed on November 8 2018 to protect patients from sexual abuse and sexual misconduct by regulated health professionals in Alberta. Alberta Paramedics are regulated health professionals under the Health Professions Act.

The Alberta Paramedic Association commends the Government of Alberta for introducing legislation aimed at strengthen patient protection by introducing mandatory penalties for sexual abuse and misconduct. The Association will continue to research and develop strategies for paramedics to maintain the highest level of protection for patients from sexual abuse and sexual misconduct.

The Association is pleased to see our regulator, the Alberta College of Paramedics (College), has started its consultation process. The Association encourages all members to participate in their consultation by providing comments and feedback in their survey link:

While we wait for the new Standard of Practice to be developed by the College, the Association wants you to become better informed on Bill 21.  We encourage all paramedics to access this link to critically analyze the new legislation.

Further, the Association’s role is not only to provide awareness and voice to the members on breaking issues, but in this case, to ensure personal safety if a legal dispute arises. It is possible that there may be circumstances where paramedics may see allegations from the public that fall into the definitions within Bill 21 that may be vexatious or unfounded as part of the regular day to day work in providing care. Therefore the Association has ensured that when necessary, our members are provided with financial resources to legally defend themselves from wrongful accusations of abuse.  

The Association stresses the importance of carrying proper professional liability insurance. We want our members to know that the Association has confirmed with our insurance provider (ProLink) that members are covered for allegations involving sexual abuse and misconduct.

Bill 21 Highlights:

  • Any record of discipline or criminal conviction or conditions placed on a paramedics practice permit related to sexual abuse or misconduct must be published and for an indefinite period.  
  • A Hearing Tribunal that finds a regulated member (paramedic) guilty of sexual abuse of a patient must cancel the member’s practice permit and registration or suspend it when a paramedic is found guilty of sexual misconduct. 
  • A Patient Relations Program is to be created by each regulator, including a fund to provide treatment or counselling to patients affected by sexual abuse or misconduct by regulated health professionals.

To get the superior protection and legal resources association members have, become a member today by clicking HERE

Paramedic Choice – Mandatory Competency Markets

When membership needs a VOICE, the Association responds.

At a cost of over 1/2 a million dollars to the profession, Association members are again being iron-handed by the paramedic regulator. This time, the Alberta College of Paramedics (ACoP) have struck an exclusive deal with an educational institution to provide a competency module that has now been mandated to all EMR’s and Paramedics in Alberta.

The college sets standards for continuing competency education within their mandate. Creating exclusive content behind closed doors like this prevents paramedics from taking advantage of competative markets and giving paramedics the choice of which vendors they would like to support. “We have seen this in the past with the Narcan module and it is an ongoing problem with the Paramedic Association of Canada fees (a voluntary association we are mandated in to), paramedics have a right to CHOICE and its time to stop this inappropriate use of legislative force.” states Marc Moebis, Executive Director of the Alberta Paramedic Association.

Read the letter to the College below

Letter to College – module (PDF)