This year, on May 1st, CUPE Ontario and the CUPE Ambulance Committee of Ontario (CACO) are again recognizing First Responders Day. We would like to express our immense pride in the commitment and compassion paramedics and health care staff bring to saving lives every day in Ontario.
Our support for you and our pride in your work is particularly strong this year, as front-line workers face an assault of cuts and threatened privatization from the Ford Conservatives. We know you are fighting to protect a strong, public system, and to make sure that you can practice your skills in ways most beneficial to patients.
Within CUPE, the vast majority of emergency services workers are in the paramedicine field – paramedics, communication officers, administrative, maintenance and support staff. We know how concerned you all are about rumoured restructuring that has the potential to increase ambulance wait times, and which threatens your ability to do your jobs. CUPE is behind you every step of the way. We will fight for your work, we will fight for patients, and we will fight for a strong, public paramedic service delivery in Ontario.
We know the physical and emotional toll your work takes on paramedics and other first responders and health services workers. That’s why, for almost a decade, we fought for changes to legislation that would make post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) a presumed work-related diagnosis under WSIB for paramedics and other first responders. This is such an achievement. But our work on this issue continues. Along with others in CUPE’s health sector, we will be urging the province to amend the new PTSD Act (Bill 163) to include other health care workers such as nurses.
We are honoured to stand with you today. As we celebrate the accomplishments of first responders, we want to acknowledge the immense contribution paramedics make in our public health system. A heartfelt thank you for all you do to provide excellent patient care.