Paramedic strike appears unavoidable starting at midnight Wednesday


A strike beginning midnight on Wednesday now appears inevitable after city officials made an insulting final offer to Unifor paramedics in Sault Ste. Marie, before walking away from talks.

“The employer is proposing a mere half a percentage yearly wage increase, which is like the City saying these paramedics are worth less than other paramedics in Ontario because others earn substantially more for the same work,” said Laurie Lessard-Brown, Unifor Local 1359 President.

Unifor local 1359 represents 54 paramedics who have been without a contract since March 2017.

The union had made a comprehensive offer to settle all outstanding issues and that included wage improvements that mirrored agreements with other Unifor paramedic units.

The employer’s response was to increase the wage proposal by just 0.25 per cent to a yearly 0.5 per cent.

“It is completely unacceptable and embarrassing that the city of Sault Ste. Marie is showing such disrespect to first responders who save lives every day,” said Lessard-Brown.

After four days of conciliation, Unifor was prepared to negotiate around the clock to reach a deal before the deadline of midnight tomorrow.

The union was disappointed when the employer sent the mediator back to Toronto, effectively ending any chance of a resolution.

“It now appears the City would rather force a strike and waste taxpayer’s time and money by challenging the validity of the Essential Services Agreement, rather than bargain fairly with paramedics,” said Katha Fortier, Assistant to the National President who will be in the city Tuesday to meet with members.

The union intends to follow the existing Essential Service Agreement, as agreed to by both parties in the expired collective agreement, but the employer has notified the Union that they intend to challenge the validity of the agreement, wasting time and resources that would be better spent at the bargaining table.

There will be a reduction in EMS services if a deal is not reached by midnight Feb. 28, 2018.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy.

The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.


  1. Well, the paramedic that did his “docudrama” on CTV was using the uniform and the installations and the vehicle and the time, all paid for taxpayers, just to embarrass the whole City and I didn’t see him very busy… probably he was the union rep…

    What is the Government doing to recover the taxpayers money spent for those CTV docudrama paramedics?

  2. Was the police and fire services of SSM asked to take the same level of increase when they negotiated their last collective agreements or were they given larger increases? If they did receive a larger increase then why should the paramdices be held to a different level of responsibility for the city’s fiscal issues?

  3. Just a thought …….Their counterparts may earn more but , has a comparison been made with respect to……the average cost of real estate in those centres? How many miles do paramedics travel back and forth to work every day in those centres? What is the overall cost of living/restaurants/home maintenance services in those centres? Do those centres border on the USA where many items such as fuel and groceries might be less costly? I’m thinking the overall cost of living is likely somewhat lower in Sault Ste Marie than those other centres and therefore wages should reflect that. What is the current salary of a paramedic in Sault Ste. Marie ?

    With the current state of our local economy maybe our municipal leaders should look at the cost of transporting non life threatening emergencies by way of private operators. I believe there are companies here that should be able to quote on the delivery of those non life threatening transporting services that paramedics are currently overworked with. This may solve two problems….give the paramedics a fair wage increase by reducing the current work force and work load through privatizing at a lower cost.

    • Blind River, Thessalon, St Joes island Paramedics are making 2.4 % more than our city paramedics who are much busier and have higher skills and provide a broader scope of care. Our local paramedics are the only paramedics that are not paid shift premiums for nights and weekends.

    • Thanks for your support. The Paramedics were offered 0.5% yearly for 3 years.
      Paramedics wage is not comparable to Fire or Police. Continue to Support and call your councillor

  4. Striking is obsolete, in my opinion. Binding arbitration is the only solution these days… objective professional arbiter woukd have sortef this out and made a fair decision long ago!

  5. We all know the city is in dire straits…financially and on top of that we have a council that thinks it is still 1960. We should be proud to give the paramedics equal pay to other centres. It is the least we can do to show our appreciation. If this means MORE DEFICIT…SO BE IT.
    All seems so quiet with the sale of Essar…the collecting of back taxes….what is this city doing about it?
    We need to replace this mayor and council in the next election.

    • The parties are miles apart on any deal to buy Essar and this cannot go on for too much longer before they shut it down and sell it off in pieces.
      What is the city doing bout collecting back taxes?
      Feeding lawyers more of our tax dollars and hoping for the best.
      But, Essar are old hands at bankrupting cities and moving on to the next one so they will likely never even pay a small fraction of what they owe. A forensic accounting should have been done long ago on this crooked outfit.

  6. All Paramedic services in Ontario are 50% funded by the Government. Unlike your Sault Fire, which the tax bases covers 100%. Ontario paramedics are not essential service employees, this provides the ability to strike(unless collective states otherwise). The population in the Sault is aging at fast rate. Hopefully those hefty fire budgets find a way to transport people to the hospital…

      • I would think that if and when a strike occurs they will use a private operator such as ‘Superior EMS’ to transport the non life threatening patients to hospital. City paramedics would likely still respond to life threatening calls during the strike.

  7. The state of the city of ssm is a sad one which wouldn’t be so sad if the Essar global deadbeats paid their staggering outstanding debts.
    The city is on the verge of going broke and this union should understand that and work with them until such a time that they can recover a bit.
    It’s destined to be a retirement town, many say it already is, and that is going to shrink by another 20,000 people in the next three years.
    Anyone wanting to cash in on their homes and move on best be doing it now before the bottom drops out of the insanely over inflated home values.

  8. And for those able to put two and two together, now we have another hint about the invasion of drug addicts from places as far as BC… all moving to the Soo, a city without resources, without employment, high taxes and a bad Mayor.
    We can infer the reasons and timing for The Overdoses Capital of the North… documentary/propaganda.

  9. Bernie you are a moron, the Paramedics working in our city deserve to be treated like OPP, nurses, Doctor, and firefighters, who get paid the same no mayeer where they work, many get paid more for working in Nothern Ontario because less people want to work in the north. You say pack your bags and leave, ever thought that getting replacements will be hard? Pay these professionals what they are worth and don’t insult the people who could one day save your life or the life of someone you love

  10. The City isn’t saying they are worth less than others in different parts of the province. The City is saying because of the dire economic situation in THIS PARTICULAR Hamlet, this is all they can afford to pay. The rest is up to the worker. If they believe they can make more money in another City that can afford more, PACK YOUR BAGS AND HEAD THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Bernie, that’s not how it works. The unon reps the paramedics in Sault. The Paramedics in Sault could leave to work for another service, the union would still be there to rep the paramedics that remain.

  11. Well isn’t this just great!!? So if a loved one is in need of transport to hospital, hows this gonna work now? No one to respond? That’s great so who is sued for the loved one dying? Someone is responsible!! How ridiculous!!

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