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September 8, 2009

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A Labour Day tribute to paramedics

VANCOUVER—Striking members of CUPE 873, B.C. ambulance paramedics, received a big boost in visibility and some much-needed support at yesterday’s Labour Day picnic in the Lower Mainland.

The annual BC Federation of Labour-sponsored event was moved this year from Confederation Park in Burnaby to Trout Lake Park in East Vancouver. The change in venue seemed to strike a chord, as the park filled with more than 1,200 people over the course of the three-hour event and there was a noticeable buzz in the environment.

CUPE BC’s booth, dedicated to the paramedics and located in front of an ambulance, saw constant traffic. Picnic goers took 50 to 100 lawn signs and filled out 300 to 400 postcards calling on the government to end the dispute—a call echoed from the stage by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who brought greetings from city council. NDP leader Carole James also brought greetings of support.

CUPE BC general vice presidents Paul Faoro and Cindy McQueen, regional vice-presidents Susan Zander, Mike Jackson and Michael Lanier (alternate), Diversity vice-president (workers of colour) Shehnaz Motani, and Metro District Council president Ken Davidson were on hand to greet members of the public and help build awareness about the plight of ambulance paramedics.

CUPE 873 member Nick Smith, the attending paramedic, even got a chance to remind everyone of the importance of his work when he found himself attending to a young boy who had suffered a dog bite in the park.

“Did I think on April 1 that we would still be without a contract by Labour Day? No, not at all,” he said. “So I hope it ends really soon. The support we’ve received here today has been great.”

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