A premature declaration sometime turns out to be self-serving and illusionary

Posted March 23, 2015

The Guelph Mercury quoted a copy of the city report on the number of employees earning more than $100,000 in 2014. As pointed out in guelphspeaks.ca, the Province will publish the official figure March 31.

Looks like this kind of report is a defensive maneuver the city administration published that the Toronto Maple Leafs would make.

The city statement, and why would we not believe them, says there was an increase of only 15 employees earning $100,000 in 2014 bring the total to 159.

Trouble is the Sunshine list, produced by the Province, stated last year there were 200 city of Guelph full-time equivalent employees earning $100,000 in 2013.

It’s called cutting the cloth to fit the figure.

According to the Mercury report, the number of firefighters earning $100K last year jumped from 49 to 68. The EMS had four employees topping the city’s version of the Sunshine list.

Which brings up the excellent column by Bob Moore in the same edition of the paper titled: “I called for an ambulance and a fire truck showed up”.

It seems that with the dramatic drop in life-threatening fires and dangerous spills, the firemen’s role in public safety has dramatically changed. After all, there are only so many cats to get out of trees these days.

While fire department negotiators across the country sell the idea that they risk their member’s lives every time the truck rolls out, the growing number of life-threatening incidents has been steadily dropping. That’s thanks to technology, improved building construction and education.

So to justify their existence, the fire department negotiators tell their municipal negotiators that they attend vehicle collision and assorted emergency that calls for medical assistance and other lifesaving extractions.

That’s okay, but because of union jurisdiction rules, the firemen are not trained to perform primary medical care to accident victims or patients. They leave that to the EMS personnel when they arrive at the scene.

In Guelph, there are six fire halls located around the city and two EMS ambulance stations. A city official said this provided better coverage for citizens. That may be true but those firemen are not trained to treat injuries, or transport victims to hospital.

The Mercury report also quoted two members of council who justified the 27 per cent increase in firemen’s staff earning $100,000 a year. One said they work hard for the risks they take while the other said $100,000 is a meaningless benchmark today.

Mercifully, we will not name them to protect the ignorant that possess a cause. Just ask those folks who toil outside the cosseted public sector if they would like to earn $100,000 a year in a job that has the ultimate in security for life.

The time has come to say “no” to these organized labour organizations and bring these contracts in line with the reality that citizens can afford.

The bottom line is the citizens are paying some staff more than $100,000 for jobs that do not warrant those salaries and benefits.

The time has come to merge the three public safety services, police, fire and EMS, into one organization. A number of these contracts with city unions are up for negotiation the year. This provides a window of opportunity to build a unified, effective and well-trained public safety team.

On a voluntary basis, start by training firefighters to perform paramedic tasks and EMS personnel to perform fire and rescue. Reward those who qualify for the new responsibilities.

In Guelph, anything is possible. Besides, there are only so many cats and so many trees.

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