The strike currently affecting paramedic and social services is moving into its third week. The strike is between Cornwall, and three different CUPE locals. While the strike continues, residents are affected through reduced or non-existent services in Cornwall, while the Counties have even fewer services.
Presently, satellite offices for social services, housing and day care subsidy, among others, are closed. For service access, county residents must drive to Cornwall. Offices in the city are open with reduced times or by appointment only. Meanwhile, only three emergency vehicles cover the entire county area for paramedic services: some help does come from neighbouring municipalities along the county borders.
This is not the first time that a labour dispute in the city has impacted the Counties. Given the current political and labour climate, it likely will not be the last dispute to affect us either. There is a joint services management committee, but have the councils gotten get together to discuss any issues? When was the last time these parties worked together, or even met for coffee to discuss issues? To be clear both sides are to blame for not being proactive in nurturing this relationship. Perhaps there is no will on either side to do so?
Following the dispute between the City and the Counties over tourism, the Counties did split and do its own thing with great success. Tourism was something the City-run organization was tasked with, and many in the Counties believed they put the city first in promotions. The County-run tourism initiative does not cost much more than before, but has done a much better job at making inroads to promote the county region.
Nearly 60 per cent of paramedic services budget is funded by the Counties. It is time for the Counties go it alone and assume operation of all services currently provided by the City of Cornwall.
There can be cost-savings by working together, if the relationship is working well, but the current city-county relationship clearly is not. The Counties is paying the majority of the bill, but is getting the short end of the stick.
This strike action is slow-moving. With no resolution in sight, the Counties should take a long-term view, and do more to protect its residents.