CUPE national president slams Island speed limits for paramedics

Staff ~ The Guardian
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Speed limits battles for Island paramedics and the national pension debate were the hot topics on the menu for 100 delegates in attendance at the annual CUPE convention here this week.

"We want Island EMS to get off the backs of paramedics, they have a tough enough jobs," said Paul Moist, national president of CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees).
Last November, Island EMS created a policy forcing paramedics to travel within speed limits. If the speed posted was 60 kmh or lower drivers had to obey. In areas above 60 kmh, paramedics could drive 20 kmh over the posted limit. In February, that policy was slightly changed to allow higher speeds in certain areas.
Most of the members at the convention agree the speeding debate should be worked out in a labour relations setting, he said.
"We don't need a public debate where it borders on irrational."
Last October the Canadian Labour Congress launched a campaign to fix Canada's pension plan for 1.6 million Canadians who exist on less than $15,000 a year.
"Many of them older women and these are people who worked their whole life but maybe not in the paid work force," said Moist.
While he admitted it would be funded from general tax revenues at a cost $750 million, Moist said it would pale in comparison to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's five-year plan to cut corporate taxes by $20 billion.
The pension campaign would see the extension of the Canada pension, the creation of a pension insurance fund for private sector workers who are facing bankruptcy in their employment and an immediate increase on the guaranteed income supplement for the elderly Canadians living on under $15,000 a year.
CUPE unanimously adopted a resolution supporting the long term pension campaign.
P.E.I. has 2,500 CUPE members in all facets of employment such as municipal, health care, paramedics, the school board and school bus drivers.

Organizations: CUPE, Union of Public Employees, Canadian Labour Congress

Geographic location: Canada

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  • sterling
    June 21, 2010 - 20:41

    the whole P.E.I. speed limits need to be more uniform. when you drivefrom place to place, the speed limits are up and down like a -----'s pants. while holidaying or not on the island it is nearly impossible to drive and rember the speed limit in the area that you are in, wake up Ronnie, and drive the roads on the island, it is time the provance woke up.

  • The foolishness continues
    June 21, 2010 - 20:40

    Mr. Cranky: the speed policy is NOT a law, it an internal policy. I can assure you that speeds ambulances are travelling is NOT going ignored! Big brother is always watching!! All Medavie ambulances are equipped with black boxes, real time information is relayed to supervisors...as related to ambulances responding to emergencies. The black box makes ticking noises to warn the driver that he/she is exceeding the speed limit , if the driver doesn't correct the problem...they get a tone and it is recorded on their driving record. ALL speeding infractions are and will be dealt with internally. Discipline will range from suspensions to firing.
    These rules are for no reason other than cost savings! IEMS, like all other ambulance services in the Maritimes are owned by an insurance company. The speed restrictions have nothing to do with patient or public safety, it's to save money on insurance premiums, fuel, vehicle maintenance.
    The reason things changed so quickly in NB is that the government bowed to public pressure...over there, it's a public service, admistered by a private company. The problem here, is that everything is private (other than the huge funding provided by gov't).

  • David
    June 21, 2010 - 20:38

    Maybe we need to look just abit past the shores of PEI.

    In last 6 weeks there have been two different mishaps involving Ambulances.

    One in new Brunswick and One in Nova Scotia.

    Maybe before we start screaming about how bad this speed restriction if we need to maybe look a little further and understand this speed restriction may in fact be a good thing.

    How many ambulance accidents have there been in the last year in Canada? Well with two in less than 2 months in our neighboring provinces than maybe we need to look abit further before we scream foul at these restrictions.

  • Irrational
    June 21, 2010 - 20:25

    We dont need a public debate where it borders on irrational.

    So the National President of CUPE thinks the public is irrational-wow

    For some reason,ambulance drivers want to race like mad all over the place-the same debate is taking place in NB.Surely there must be more important issues to deal with.

    Given that ambulances usually end up in a few accidents each year perhaps 20 kph over the posted speed limit is enough.

  • Gerry
    June 21, 2010 - 20:24

    Who is actually complaining about ambulances exceeding the speed limit? Was it ever actually an issue amongst the public?

    I am sure the majority of drivers exceed the Island speed limits on a daily basis. However, how many would actually complain about the prudency required when in view of an emergency vehicle? It is not an inconvenience whatsoever.

    The media's hype regarding this topic has become monotonous.

  • Jeremy
    June 21, 2010 - 20:14

    This is Beyond Stupid.. What in the hell is this island coming to anyways.. Yeah makes perfect sense someone having a Heart attack but that's alright they should drive slower to get there.. WAKE THE HELL UP.. Be interesting to see the people complaining about this and if they are in need and it takes the drivers longer to get there cause they passed a stupid rule about ambulance drivers to drive slower.. What next..

  • Mr
    June 21, 2010 - 20:10

    This law is only a liability statement in the event something happens due specifically to speed of an ambulance. As long as there are no direct, causal incidents, the speed of ambulances will continue to go ignored, as they always have been. You will NOT see this law enforced, because the police who would enforce it see it as the nonsense it is. The so-called speeding of an ambulance, with lights on, isn't likely to even match the average speed of most vehicles at non-peak times. An emergency vehicle, going 115km/h in a 90? With your lights flashing? I'll eat my words and someone else's if a fine is EVER levied for that.

  • annoyed
    June 21, 2010 - 20:09

    Well for starter, for the people that think it might not be a bad thing to enforce these driving restrictions in pei and want to compare them to NS and NB let us all remember that the speed limits in PEI range very low compaired to NS and NB and if your a paramedic driving in lets say NS you can drive up to 120km/h where as on PEI paramedics cant exceed 40km/h in some spots! I don't know about you folks but if someone im my family takes a heart attack or gets in a serious Car accident or something like that, i really would want to know that the ambulance is going to be here today and not sometime next week!
    I personally think that if someone is responsible enough to be out in the public working for Island EMS makes critical life saving decisions in split seconds to save strangers lives that there is no need of a speed limit. They also should be responsible enough to know when and where to drive fast and slow based on patients conditions and safely get them to where then need to be going!!!!
    Also just on another note, it really pisses Paramedics off when they are call ambulance drivers! I would like a paramedic showing up at my door and not a ambulance driver!

  • first last
    June 21, 2010 - 20:06

    The CUPE national president has no idea what he is talking about. 1. The speed guidelines are a fabulous idea that is scientifically sound. 2. It's an OHS issue, not labour.

    Island EMS didn't create the policy, Medavie EMS copied what has been longstanding (and well accepted) in NS and applied it to all their companies.

  • Get with the Times
    June 21, 2010 - 19:57

    I wish people that have no clue about the facts would stop commenting on these articles. If you look at the current research out there it shows that ambulances do not increase their response time by any significant amount by being compliant with this policy. This minor increase has no major effects on a patient's clinical condition. Do you think that an ambulance operation who believes in high clinical patient care are going to implement a policy that will effect a patient's condition in a negative way. Paramedics are performing a very high level of care that patients historically were only able to receive in a emergency room. The policy is about safety for everyone involved and the union is making a stink about it???? Does the union not care about the safety of their members??? So do I sue CUPE when my husband and kids get into a collision with an ambulance because they were speeding because CUPE doesn't agree with a safety policy...Time for this discussion to end. I am a nurse at a rural hospital and I am glad the paramedics in my community are operating in a safe manner so they can provide a high level of care to family and patients I see on a daily basis.

  • Eastern PEI
    June 21, 2010 - 19:42

    David do you know what happened in the two accidents off Island.

    You are assuming that the accident was due caused by the EHS vehicles.

    I take it you have never driven Emergency Response Vehicle, it is the public that causes these accidents you would be amazed at how many stupid drivers there is out there at do not know that you when you see an Emergency Response Vehicle approaching you are to pull over to the right and stop you vehicle.

  • reality
    June 21, 2010 - 19:34

    It wasn't just in PEI....

    Do some research for once Guardian staff.

    Or do you have anyone there with a real journalism degree? Only Holland College diplomas, eh?