Friday, December 05, 2008

Now this is Molly's idea of an election campaign. While Canada's political elite plot over the Christmas holidays another election campaign is coming to a close in the province of Québec. This has gone almost unnoticed out here in the ROC (Rest of Canada) except for various commentators- yes even here in Winnipeg- who have noted how Sneaky Stevie Harper's loose lip could possibly give a much needed blood transfusion to a flagging PQ. Nothing like having close to half the population of a province painted as devils-even if you have had extensive dealings with the federal party representing them before- to get the nationalist dander up. Unfortunately it works both ways.
So, while Jean Charest, the leader of the Québec Liberals gets down on his knees every night to pray that Captain Canada Stevie gets a bad case of laryngitis for the next few days or, less likely realizes the harm he is doing and shuts up until at least after Monday (the election day in Québec), another "election campaign" is happening down there, unknown to most of us in the ROC. Since December 2003 the Emergency medical responders in that province have been without a contract, and they have become fed up enough to decide to dog Premier Charest at every stop of his campaign in the next few days. Here's the story from the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). It brings the Cheshire Cat grin to Molly's face.
Emergency medical responders will follow Charest: Montreal, Wednesday, December 3, 2008—Premier Jean Charest will be in good company during the last few days of the Quebec election campaign. Urgences-santé (EMRs) union cut the ribbon, this morning, on its “election” bus, which will travel throughout Quebec right behind the Liberal leader’s caravan. It boasts three large banners on each side and audio-video equipment for presenting a film about the difficult work they do and broadcasting the union’s message. Three people, including the union’s president, will be on the bus during this dynamic campaign.

“We told them we would be dogging them throughout the campaign,” explained Martin Doyon, president of the union. “After the demonstrations, we’re launching our own election tour!” Every Liberal stop, the EMRs will be highly visible, displaying their banners and distributing pamphlets to raise public awareness. They’ve even set up a blog——where they’ll post comments, photographs, and videos on their activities.

CUPE believes the message to Minister Bolduc and Jean Charest is crystal clear. “It’s a priority issue for us. These employees have been without a contract since December 2003. Their salaries have fallen way behind those of EMRs in Canada’s other large cities, and they earn 32% less than 9-1-1 technicians at the City of Montreal. They deserve to be recognized for their true value, and we will do everything necessary to make sure these professionals are treated fairly,” added Michel Poirier, CUPE Québec regional director and vice president of FTQ.

Pierre Soucy, the president of Conseil provincial des affaires sociales (CPAS), pointed out problems with responder turnover. “The rate is catastrophic! We lose at least 50% of new recruits before the end of their probation period. In April 2007, there were 52 responders to serve the population; today there are only 44 and we’re going to lose two more at the end of the month. In fact, it is much more costly for Urgences-santé to train new responders than to pay them enough to stay. It is a completely irresponsible way of managing public funds,” he concluded.

The EMRs invite the public to visit their website at, where they can watch a hard-hitting video about what EMRs face every day.

No comments: