SNELL: Maybe it’s time for divorce in firefighters, paramedics family feud

The years-long feud between unions functioning under the umbrella of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) reminds me of my own divorce. Acrimonious and pitiful. 

Twenty years ago, I had an attractive house in the country, two healthy children, and lots of nice stuff.Like a quarrelling husband and wife, the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg (UFFW) and the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union Local 911 have long forgotten they’re on the same team.

The recent firestorm of controversy involving the delayed transport of an injured woman to hospital is evidence, as if more was needed, that’s it’s time for a divorce.

The family home is broken. All the nice stuff — mutual respect, common goals, saved lives and community inspiration — is now scattered on the front lawn, pitched out the front door by union leadership for the whole community to see. It’s a disgrace.

The UFFW is the wealthy spouse — supported by its parent, the WFPS, which receives massive yearly infusions of city cash. Ambulance paramedics, who’ve seen little new investment since 2011, are the disheveled partner, broke and burned out after years of neglect.The unions are heading to family court, and it’s going to get ugly as they compete for the affection of taxpayers, who will certainly fall victim to a dysfunctional system that threw them overboard years ago.UFFW firefighters, who work tirelessly and heroically under the dark cloud of Winnipeg’s escalating drug and crime problem, should stick to fighting fires despite having dozens of highly qualified paramedics in their ranks.
Winnipeg ambulance paramedics should be treated with respect. They should be released from the bonds of the WFPS as part of a major system overhaul.Firefighters, who responded to thousands of medical calls in 2020, should be validated and commended. Emergency responders should never be caught in the middle of political games and manipulation.

jsnell@postmedia.com

Twitter @JamesWestgateSn