For Immediate Release
Paramedics granted same protection as other first responders.
Alberta workplaces will be safer and injured workers will be treated with more fairness when Bill 30 is passed, says the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA), the union of health-care professionals.
“The legislation introduced today is a significant step towards improving workplaces. HSAA and the labour movement have been fighting for changes like these for many years. This is a day to celebrate,” says Trudy Thomson, vice-president of HSAA, which represents about 25,000 health-care professionals.
Of particular concern to HSAA is the provision of presumptive Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) coverage for paramedics who experience a heart attack during or after the completion of their shift.
“This brings paramedics in line with other first responders, who have long had this coverage. HSAA’s fight to get this took on a new urgency after the passing of paramedic Dave Sartorelli from cardiac arrest less than four hours after his shift ended in 2014. Today, our thoughts are with Dave’s family,” says Thomson.
“While the improved protections in the Occupational Health and Safety and WCB legislation are unprecedented in Alberta, they simply bring this province in line with rules that already exist in other Canadian jurisdictions. We’re confident Alberta employers will be able to adapt to these changes without any problems,” she says.
The OHS changes include: bullying and harassment will be covered under legislation for the first time; improved roles for joint worker-employer workplace health and safety committees, which now become mandatory; and provisions against employers retaliating against workers who speak out on safety issues.
WCB changes include clarifying that the overall goal of WCB is to accommodate injured workers; increasing payments to injured workers to more closely reflect their incomes before they were hurt and so to reduce financial hardship; making death benefits more equitable and consistent with obligations in the Charter of Rights; and extending the process and timelines for appeals.
“It is refreshing that this government has listened to working Albertans. While we didn’t get all the changes we wanted, these changes are a fundamental step in the right direction. HSAA is committed to continue advocating for further improvement.”
Media Contact: Trudy Thomson at 780-264-8438