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Quebec union warns of crisis-level staffing shortage at emergency call centres

The union representing workers in Quebec’s pre-hospital emergency care sector is calling for more financial resources to avert what it describes as a “catastrophic” breakdown in services.

The president of the Fédération des employés du Préhospitalier du Québec (FPHQ) says emergency call centres are struggling with a staff shortage that has become unsustainable.

Daniel Chouinard says a lack of personnel is increasing response times, including for 911 calls, which means ambulances are taking more time to deploy.

He says some workers are working more than 70 hours a week, and some are quitting due to the poor working conditions.

The union, whose workers include paramedics and dispatchers, have been without a contract for the last nine months.

Chouinard says the call centre workers are paid only $21.37 per hour, which doesn’t reflect the difficulty of the job or their specialized knowledge of health services and emergency situations.

He’s urging the Quebec government to sign a new contract to restore some stability in the sector and avoid service disruptions.

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