Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/3/2015 (2090 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A last-minute deal to help keep Greg Selinger in the premier's chair may have scuttled a chance by Manitoba's paramedics to be recognized as a self-regulating profession.

That's the fear coming from the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union, which represents the Paramedics Association of Manitoba on its application to the province to be recognized under the Regulated Health Professionals Act (RHPA).

MGEU president Michelle Gawronsky has written to Selinger asking for clarification on the association's bid in the wake of allegations that a commitment was made by Selinger's supporters, including Health Minister Sharon Blady and principal secretary Heather Grant-Jury, to the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg to deny part or all of the association's application.

The fear is denying the application, to be decided by Blady as health minister, would mean about 300 paramedics who work for the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service would not fall under any possible professional self-regulating body as promoted by the paramedic association. There are about 2,500 licensed paramedics in the province.

'I'm not aware of that having occurred. But at the end of the day, any decisions made at the leadership convention were made by myself' ‐ Greg Selinger on any deal with the firefighters union

Sources say in return for that commitment, UFFW president Alex Forrest got delegates under his control to vote for Selinger instead of rival Theresa Oswald. The UFFW had 14 delegates, but other delegates from Brandon, Thompson and the Manitoba Association of Fire Fighters brought the total to about two dozen delegates.

Selinger won by 33 votes.

Gawronsky wrote in her letter, which was posted on the MGEU website, she had heard concerns from paramedics that commitments may have been made regarding self-regulation in the NDP leadership vote.

"I am writing to ask you for confirmation that the government will proceed with self-regulation for paramedics and to ask that you provide the timeline for this important initiative," Gawronsky wrote. "I know I speak for paramedics when I say we are looking for a partner in moving EMS care and the paramedic profession to a higher level."

On Monday, Selinger denied any deal had been made on his behalf with Forrest.

Premier Greg Selinger denies a deal was struck with the firefighters union to stop paramedics from being deemed a self-regulating profession.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Premier Greg Selinger denies a deal was struck with the firefighters union to stop paramedics from being deemed a self-regulating profession.

"I am not aware of that being the case, and certainly I've made no promises to anybody about anything," Selinger said Monday. "Other than to treat people fairly and to give consideration to their views. But there's been no firm promises made from my level."

Pressed on whether one of his cabinet ministers may have promised the firefighters union something on his behalf, Selinger responded: "I'm not aware of that having occurred. But at the end of the day, any decisions made at the leadership convention were made by myself."

Forrest said he would not comment on "internal discussions" that took place concerning his union's support of Selinger over Oswald.

"I can tell you we did what was in the best interests of firefighters in the province of Manitoba," he said. "The application (by the paramedic association) was ultimately sunk when it went forward without our inclusion."

Gawronsky said allegations of a deal are sufficient enough that she wants clarification from Selinger.

"It has been reported that para-medicine was a key issue in the campaign," she said. "Many of our paramedic members have been asking what that may mean for their profession and for emergency medical care in Manitoba.

"This is of paramount importance to all Manitobans because it's something that improves patient care and accountability in the health care system and clearly it's something paramedics want to ensure the government is being up front and transparent about."

The Paramedics Association of Manitoba applied more than three years ago to be recognized under the RHPA because paramedics often perform unsupervised medical procedures that even nurses don't undertake without medical direction in hospitals.

"We are medical practitioners, and we have a responsibility to ourselves, to our patients and to the public to be held to the same standards of accountability that every other health profession is held to," PMA administrative director Eric Glass said last fall.

He wouldn't comment Monday.

The NDP introduced the RHPA in 2009 to regulate all health professions under one set of rules.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca