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Paramedic Wins Human Rights Case

Editor's Note: The following article is reprinted from the National Union of Public and General Employees website:

Eyesight Problem Stopped Veteran Employee from Driving But Did Not Prevent Him from Continuing to Work

Barrie (18 July, 2007)--An arbitrator has ruled that a paramedic can continue to work in Ontario despite an eyesight problem that cost him the F-class licence needed to drive an ambulance in the province.

The decision says the Human Rights Code can prevail over a provincial Ambulance Act requirement stipulating that all Ontario paramedics must be legally able to operate an ambulance.

Dave Rogers, a 17-year Simcoe County paramedic veteran, was told by his employer in 2005 he could no longer work because of the Ambulance Act regulations.

His case was appealed by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) on grounds that, since no paramedic drives to an emergency alone, and since the restriction does not apply to volunteer ambulance personnel, Rogers should be able to remain on the job in an "attend-only" capacity.

Arbitrator Morley Gorsky accepted the argument, ruling that Rogers was entitled to accommodation by his employer and that the Human Rights Code should prevail in his case.

"This is a great decision for Dave Rogers," says OPSEU Ambulance Division Chair Jamie Ramage. "Now we will bring further attention to this issue as we feel other paramedics in this situation should have the same opportunity."