Air paramedics vote strike

An Ornge air ambulance lands atop the Manitoulin Health Centre’s Little Current site. Ornge is a crucial part of Manitoulin’s paramedic services. Expositor file photo

Should contract negotiations fail

ONTARIO – Members of Unifor, the union representing Ornge air ambulance workers, have voted 94 percent in favour of a strike should negotiations fail. UNIFOR, however, noted a strike would only take place as a very last resort. The air ambulance workers have said they will continue to serve patients without disruption as the labour strife continues.

Ornge is the non-profit air ambulance and medical transport provider that serves all of Ontario. 

Unifor announced that paramedics voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action in a vote taken last Friday. 

The Ornge air ambulance workers have been without a contract since July 31, 2020. They have been looking for an exemption from the 2019 provincial law that caps public sector salary increases at one percent a year. 

Bill 124, which the province established in 2019, states that all public-sector wages in the province may only increase by one percent per year. 

A spokesman for Ornge says the agency is still confident that a resolution can be reached, but the service won’t comment further out of respect for negotiations. 

In an effort to ease the load on overcrowded hospitals, Ornge paramedics have been heavily involved in the transfer of COVID-19 patients around the province. They have also helped implement Ontario’s vaccination plan in remote communities throughout Ontario.