The following is a joint statement by paramedics Phil Comeau (NDP candidate for Saint John East) and Mathieu Chayer (NDP candidate for Caraquet) on the recently announced language requirements by Ambulance New Brunswick.
We support the move to make Ambulance New Brunswick more bilingual. New Brunswick’s status as Canada’s only bilingual province makes us unique and it needs to be reflected in how we provide service within our communities.
We take issue with the timeframe that has been imposed on the employees of Ambulance New Brunswick which we believe to be unfair and unrealistic.
The date at which ANB employees need to meet the bilingualism requirements should be pushed ahead 18 months to allow paramedics to obtain the necessary language training. To give us little over three weeks’ notice before implementation is not good for our colleagues and more importantly, not good for New Brunswickers.
We welcome the offer of language training paid for by the employer and we are certain many ANB employees will take advantage of this opportunity. But not if they are not given the opportunity to meet the new requirements before they are implemented.
Ambulance New Brunswick and the government have known since 2007 that they need to comply with increased bilingual requirements for ANB employees. Nothing has been done to prepare for this transition. It is not right that employees pay the price for years of inaction and incompetence by Liberal and Conservative governments.
This plan was made without input from CUPE local 4848. We are concerned when contract rights are not respected. We do not want to send the signal that New Brunswick does not respect the collective bargaining process.