The president of the Ambulance Paramedics of British Columbia has said a new payroll system integrated with the Provincial Health Services Authority has meant some paramedics have received less pay, while others have received nothing at all.
“The union executive recognized there were going to be a lot of issues and that people were not going to get paid as a result of these issues and a lack of planning,” said Bronwyn Barter, president of the Ambulance Paramedics of B.C. who was reached by telephone Wednesday, July 24. “We told the employer, ‘You gotta’ stop, you can’t go live with this.'”
A statement provided by BC Ambulance Service acknowledged that a new, electronic centralized scheduling system and updated payroll system, provided by Health Shared Services BC and brought online in June, caused some paramedics and dispatchers to experience payroll “anomalies” on July 12.
Barter said while there are full-time paramedics in the West Kootenays, many are part-time and there are varying rate structures for working different shifts and attending calls. She said the BCAS delayed the date of the rollout of the new system for a couple of months but then laid off payroll people; which meant they couldn’t delay any further.
“They transitioned us knowing that people would not get paid,” said Barter. “They went live June 21 and come payday, a lot of people didn’t receive any pay and some people got a decreased amount of pay.”
The statement from BCAS said that in advance of the July 12 pay date, they apologized to staff for any inconvenience they might experience and outlined a process to correct errors. To their knowledge, all staff have received all or most of their pay from the July 12 pay date and they expect the majority of problems to be resolved by August 23. A formal review of the July 12 pay cycle has also been developed to ensure each employee is accurately paid.
Barter, who lives in Trail and is the chief at the station in Nelson, said what really impacts the part-time paramedics around the Kootenays is that a lot of them travel to their jobs in urban centres and it’s costing them money to work.
“A lot of them are working their way up to full-time careers and they can’t afford to even get to work,” she said. “We don’t see them fixing this anytime soon. They’ve actually updated us and said it could be the end of August which isn’t going to cut it for the people paying mortgages and bills. With the jobs paramedics are doing — intervening in people’s lives and saving lives — the last thing they need is the stress of [wondering] can I pay my mortgage, put gas in my car and feed my family.”
BCAS said it has issued cheques immediately for any staff who experienced a significant impact to their pay and allocated over 60 staff to work extended hours in order to solve the problems. District Managers were also assigned to triage the complaints and they said they are doing all they can to improve the system and minimize impact to employees.
Barter said they will know on Friday, July 26 if the situation has seen improvements, as that is the next payday.