Paramedics from 40 ambulance services across Quebec are striking to lower the required retirement age for their defined benefit pension plan and for pay equity with their emergency services colleagues.

The Fédération des employés du préhospitalier du Québec union — which has nearly 2,500 pre-hospital members, including paramedics — went on strike July 1. Currently, the members’ have a DB pension plan that requires a base contribution of 1.9 per cent of a worker’s annual base salary to qualify for the plan, said union president Daniel Chouinard in an email to Benefits Canada.

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The DB plan has a fixed requirement age of 60 years old, he said, noting if a worker chooses to retire early, they’re subject to a penalty of four per cent for each additional year. “In these negotiations, we’re asking for eligibility of retirement to be fixed at 58 years old or 35 years of career without penalties.”

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the union’s membership received the same salary conditions as other emergency services workers — such as police officers, firefighters and nurses — under the province’s health network, said Chouinard, adding the union would like to see parity continue on a permanent basis to ensure its members’ salary scale and bonuses increase to the same level as their emergency services colleagues.

“We didn’t receive the same bonus as the health network [during the pandemic], so if the Ministère de la Santé et des Services Sociaux wants us to be there, we need to have the same bonus treatments.”

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