Barriere First Responders exceed petition requirements

Have collected signatures form over 10 per cent of registered voters in Kamloops-North Thompson electora

Star/Journal file photo: Barriere First Responders have been on site at Barriere AG Foods a number of times over the past few months asking area residents to sign a petition for paramedics to be fairly paid by being designated Essential Services in rural areas across B.C.  Pictured (seated l-r) First Responders Michelle Connelly and Anika Schultz

Star/Journal file photo: Barriere First Responders have been on site at Barriere AG Foods a number of times over the past few months asking area residents to sign a petition for paramedics to be fairly paid by being designated Essential Services in rural areas across B.C. Pictured (seated l-r) First Responders Michelle Connelly and Anika Schultz

Barriere First Responders are excited that they have collected signatures form over 10 per cent of  the registered voters in the Kamloops-North Thompson electoral district.

“We met and exceeded the requirements of the petition for this electoral district, and now we are waiting to see what the rest of the province looks like,” said Barriere Ambulance Chief Don Piper last Monday.

The petition is an Initiative Act application to move ambulance service paramedics and dispatchers into the Fire and Police Services Collective Bargaining Act. The amended act would be called the Ambulance, Fire and Police Services Collective Bargaining Act.

The Fire and Police Services Collective Bargaining Act protects the public from interruptions to certain essential services by referring all bargaining impasses to binding interest arbitration.

This means that ambulance service paramedics and dispatchers would not be allowed to strike, and their employer would not be allowed to lock them out.

B.C.’s Initiative Process is a process through which a registered voter can propose a new law or changes to an existing law on matters over which the provincial legislature has authority. The voter must collect signatures from 10 per cent of the registered voters in each of the province’s electoral districts for an initiative petition to succeed.

Piper also noted that as of Monday the following electoral districts in B.C. have also reached their benchmark: Powell River-Sunshine Coast, Nechako Lakes, Cowichan Valley, Prince George-Mackenzie, Prince-George-Valemount, Shuswap, Vernon-Monashee, Alberni-Pacific Rim, Kootenay West,  and Maple Ridge-Mission.

We asked Piper if he thought that First Responders across the province would be able to gather the 10 per cent required from every electoral district with just a final week to go?

“I doubt we will meet the benchmark across the province, but what we are doing is showing the support that we have,” said Piper, who noted his understanding of the process from here on in is that once the time limit for gathering signatures is up, the petition will be presented to Elections BC for verification.

The initiative process is unique to B.C. – no other province or territory in Canada has initiative legislation.