Four unions seek equal pension rights for Ontario paramedics

AMO should treat paramedics the same as police and firefighters


Toronto (1 April 2008) - Four unions, including the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE), have joined forces demanding pension fairness for paramedics from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO).

The unions, which also include the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), have sent a letter to the AMO board demanding the same pension arrangements for paramedics that are available to police and firefighters.

"Workers in designated public safety occupations have difficult, demanding jobs," the letter says.

"When a citizen in our community has to call 911, paramedics, firefighters and police are ready to respond. Deservedly, police and firefighters in Ontario have a normal retirement age of 60. But paramedics do not. Paramedics are the only employees of the three designated public safety occupations who have to wait until age 65 to retire with full pension," the unions say.

"As senior elected leaders representing more than 5,000 Ontario paramedics, we believe this must change. The women and men - our members - who provide emergency services should all have the right to retire at age 60 with an unreduced pension. Paramedics deserve equity with police and firefighters. They want to move towards this goal now."

The unions say three steps are required to bring about the change and the first has already been taken. In 2005, the federal government formally designated paramedics as a "public safety occupation" equal to police and firefighters, recognizing that paramedics also provide a public service often under hazardous, high stress conditions.

However, two further steps are needed to bring about the change, the letter says.

First, it wants the AMO to direct its representatives at OMERS (Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System) to support pension changes allowing paramedics to retire at 60 with a full pension.

Second, it is asking the AMO to then give union locals representing paramedics across the province the right to bargain retirement at 60 in future collective agreements on behalf of their members.

The four unions are embarking on a province wide campaign to win support at the provincial and municipal political levels to bring about the change. NUPGE

More information:

NUPGE seeks pension changes for public safety occupationsBudget provides pension fairness for public safety officersOPSEU: Health Care - Ambulance Division  

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