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Montreal Emergency Support Workers Are Going On Strike For 36 Hours

Over a third of Urgences-Santé support staff have left their jobs since January.

​The front of an ambulance in Montreal.

The front of an ambulance in Montreal.

Montreal emergency services support workers who maintain ambulances and medical equipment for Urgences-Santé will go on strike for 36 hours starting on Monday at midnight. The action will focus on administrative tasks and is unlikely to affect emergency services in the city, following a Saturday ruling by the Tribunal administratif du travail (TAT) that workers do not interfere with essential duties.

The union representing support staff says they hope the action will put pressure on their employer to reach a collective agreement that will entice and retain more workers to the field.

They have not had a collective agreement since March 2020 and have been bleeding support personnel ever since. As of January, 45 out of 120 workers — mostly ambulance maintenance personnel — have left their jobs.

Union representatives say employers have been turning to the private sector and paying more to outsource work instead of improving conditions for those already hired.

Negotiations with Urgences-Santé are at a standstill, and no meeting dates are scheduled before September.

According to their union mandate, emergency support staff could strike for up to 10 days.

Meanwhile, the union for Urgences-Santé paramedics used a similar pressure tactic last week over the labour shortage in their sector that they say is causing an overload of work.

Many paramedics are unable to take a lunch break at the scheduled time due to a lack of personnel, according to union reps.

The union also called out compulsory overtime and said voluntary overtime work should be paid a double rate.

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