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Paramedics rally in Toronto (April 17th, 2008) to push for right to retire at 60 like police, firefighters.
TORONTO, Ont. Like police and firefighters, paramedics provide a public service often under hazardous, high stress conditions. However, they are not treated the same way when it comes to pensions.
Citing issues of fairness and safety, paramedics from across Ontario gathered in downtown Toronto on Thursday, April 17 to call for the right to retire with full pension at age 60. Because that requires changes to the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) plan, the paramedics conducted an information picket in front of the OMERS Sponsors Corporation offices, where Corporation directors were meeting.
The federal government designated paramedics as a Public Safety Occupation in 2005 with police and firefighters. Unlike those professions, however, paramedics do not have the right to retire at age 60 with a full pension.
The federal government has recognized that the public safety nature of our work can take a toll on our health, the same as police and firefighters, said Jamie Ramage, Chair of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union’s (OPSEU) Ambulance Division. That’s why we are asking OMERS Sponsor Corporation directors and municipal governments to support the changes to OMERS that would give us the right to retire at 60 with a full pension.
In many cases, the initial emergency care provided by paramedics is the deciding factor between life and death, temporary or permanent disability, a brief confinement or prolonged hospitalization for a patient, said Mike Dick, Co-chair of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario’s Ambulance Committee. Like police and firefighters, I need to be able to make the choice whether to retire at 60 with a full pension.
Ramage and Dick, are part of a coalition of paramedics that includes the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Other actions are being planned.