Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service looking for consultant to address workplace issues

The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) wants a private consultant to help change “cultural attitudes” within the department.

The move comes following calls from union leaders to split up fire fighters and paramedics because of workplace issues.

A request for proposals (RFP) asks bidders to make submissions by Jan. 7 for a culture shift plan. The document says the WFPS is faced with ongoing challenges related to cultural attitudes.

WFPS Chief Christian Schmidt says the RFP stems from a survey of all staff, firefighters and paramedics, that was done.

“It arose out of the fact that we we’re seeing a number of respectful workplace complaints.” said Schmidt.

Schmidt says the survey results showed concerns about a lack of team work, decision making, and confusion over job expectations, which was leading to personal conflicts.

The RFP says the culture shift strategy will come up with a blueprint on how to implement needed changes.

“In equipping people with the skills they need in a workplace to deal with conflict effectively so that we have good harmony in the workplace.” said Schmidt.

Winnipeg has an integrated service model where firefighters and paramedics work together to provide emergency care.

In March, the union representing paramedics, the MGEU, called on Mayor Brian Bowman to remove paramedics from fire-paramedic stations over allegations of bullying and harassment.

Days later, the UFFW, the firefighters union, asked the province to take over ambulance service and agreed with the suggestion of removing paramedics from the stations.

This, following an October 2020 incident where a paramedic claimed two firefighters refused to help him during a call involving an Indigenous patient.

MGEU President Kyle Ross called the culture shift plan a good step.

“We’ve heard from our members that there is racism, sexism, and other forms of harassment.” said Ross “It seems like a very toxic workplace.”

Mayor Brian Bowman says anything that can be done to make the work environment safer and more inclusive is a good investment.

“There is a need for fire and paramedics to work collaboratively together.” said Bowman.

The United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg was unavailable for comment.

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