WCB / EI Coverage

This letter was sent to the Honourable Jason Copping:  Minister of Labour and Immigration March 21, 2020

Dear Honourable Copping,

As a representative organization for its members, the Alberta Paramedic Association’s (the Association) mission is to enhance knowledge, skills and the health and wellness Paramedics. The Association is not a union, but rather an elected organization that provides a voice for Paramedics within their professional practice.

Amid this COVID-19 crisis, all front-line medical professionals are doing their best to provide service for Albertan’s. Paramedics are often the first medical professionals contacted during health emergencies. Currently, Paramedics are taking great risk to protect their personal wellbeing and their families to ensure health services are being maintained.

There have been many announcements by your government outlining the financial assistance that you are providing for Albertans during this time of crisis. Current messaging is aimed at those who either become exposed or contract symptoms of the COVID-19 virus with specific direction to quarantine themselves. Once exposed, it is reasonable for paramedics to quarantine themselves to limit exposure to others however they must enact or rely on any sick benefits.

The Association has spoken previously about those Paramedics who are working extended on call shifts commonly known as Core-Flex, where compensation is based on a framework of an hourly rate and on-call rate. While those particulars can be debated another day, there is a pressing financial issue to how sick benefits, Employment Insurance (EI) and/or Workers Compensation Board (WCB) are calculated for compensation within the Core-Flex model.

Compensation for the on-call hours varies slightly between employers, however this compensation averages to roughly $6/hour. When Paramedics activate sick benefits, those hours designated as “on-call” are not compensated by sick benefits. Over the course of a 14-day quarantine, a reduction of $6.00/hour for an “on-call” period of 12-14 hours per day becomes a significant portion of their wage. To be clear, this on-call value is also not recognized by Employment Insurance (EI) or the Workers Compensation Board (WCB) benefits due to current legislation.

The Alberta Paramedic Association asks the Minister of Labor for a directive that the “on-call” portion be included in all employee sick benefits and/or the Government provide a special relief funding package for those paramedics working the Core-Flex model in order to cover the deficiency within their benefits. Furthermore, this should be included in the assessment for EI and WCB compensation. We don’t believe this to be an unreasonable request for those Paramedics who are placing their own wellbeing at risk to serve Albertans.

While the Association’s primary function is for its members, we also feel the need to contribute in a meaningful way to the Government of Alberta. Paramedics skillsets can contribute greatly in this time of need. Thank you for your time in the midst of this Crisis and I look forward to discussing these matters with you. Sincerely, 

Dusty Myshrall, ACP, Flight Paramedic
President Alberta Paramedic Association 

Swab Testing

This letter was sent to the Alberta College of Paramedics on March 22, 2020

Dear Dusty Schlitter,

I am writing to you as the representative of the Alberta Paramedic Association (Association), in hopes that we may find common ground in working together to help Paramedics better serve Albertan’s during this COVID-19 Crisis. We’ve been approached by various stakeholders asking for clarification on a Primary Care Paramedics (PCP) and Emergency Medical Responders (EMR) ability to perform COVID-19 swab testing. While the Association certainly recognizes that scope of practice is within the mandate of the Alberta College of Paramedics (College), I am hopeful that both the Association and College may work together to expeditiously give PCP’s and EMR’s the ability to perform COVID-19 swab testing.

The Association can appreciate that adding to their scope and/or amending regulation can be a lengthy process, we do feel that during this pandemic crisis, Albertans will be better served by having PCP’s and possibly EMR’s performing swab testing. To that end, the Association is proposing that if the College agrees to giving practitioners the ability to perform swab testing, then the Association can host a learning module that any practitioner regardless of being a member or not, can take at no cost to them on our secured websites learning management system (LMS). Our website and LMS is on secured server and platform managed by a reputable company in Edmonton, who has contracts with other regulating bodies under the Health Professions Act. Once a practitioner completes the learning module, the LMS will provide them with a certificate, as-well automatically send a digital record to the College validating that they have completed the module.

I am happy to discuss the above in more detail as-well any other ideas/solutions to expedite their ability to perform swab testing within Alberta as well any other ways that Paramedics can better serve Albertan’s in this time of Crisis. Please call me at 780-904-3619 at your earliest convenience.

Thank you for your urgent attention in this matter and I look forward to hearing from you. 

Dusty Myshrall, ACP, Flight Paramedic
President Alberta Paramedic Association 

COVID-19: Letter to the Government of Alberta

The Alberta Paramedic Association is here for you. We realize that in Healthcare today you have been faced with unprecedented responsibility during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Due to COVID-19, you as a Paramedic may have been asked to perform new duties including but not limited to “treating and referring” patients.

Due to this request, the Alberta Paramedic Association has requested Dr. Deena Hinshaw with The Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health Government of Alberta to provide further directives pertaining to treating and referring patients who are suspected to have COVID-19 who are in our care regardless of your practice setting.

We value each of you for stepping up to the challenge and helping keep Albertans safe in times when resources are stressed. You are the difference we want to see in our profession and we want to keep you informed as quickly as possible.

Stay Safe and thank you for your service.

For further information about COVID-19, please visit our page dedicated to specific information surrounding it.

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