The union representing 911 operators across British Columbia says mediated talks broke down Friday with their employer, E-Comm.
CUPE Local 873-02, the union representing emergency dispatchers and support staff, says E-Comm has been unwilling to address low wages, cost of living, overtime, missed breaks, poor working conditions, burnout and high attrition.
Unit Chair Matthew Bordewick says it became apparent during bargaining that E-Comm is "desperately underfunded" and clearly lacks the resources to deliver a critical public service.
E-Comm, which handles approximately 99 per cent of 911 calls in B.C., did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
He says chronic underfunding by E-Comm has led to unacceptable wait times for both emergency and non-emergency calls and as a result, E-Comm has been consistently unable to meet its targets for calls answered and times to dispatch.
Bordewick says the union and employer will now shift their focus to addressing essential service levels and the union will not be considering job action until those levels have been established by the Labour Board.
"We will continue to provide the excellent public service we have always delivered, but we will also be mobilizing our members to draw attention to the lack of funding to this organization and the impact it has on the lives and mental health of our members," adds Bordewick in a statement.
"E-Comm employees have a role to play in helping this employer address the structural challenges at E-Comm. We're part of the solution, but our members also deserve a fair contract."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 1, 2019.