EMS Camera Dispute Heading To Arbitration

BlackburnNews.com file photo of Essex-Windsor EMS. (Photo by Mike Vlasveld)

A dispute over cameras and audio recording in Windsor-Essex ambulances is heading to arbitration.

The main issue at play — cameras in 28 of the 38 ambulance front cabs. Those have the ability to record both audio and video, but aren’t currently in use pending the outcome of arbitration, according to EMS chief Bruce Krauter.

In addition, all ambulances are equipped with rear-compartment cameras that do not record, but instead allow the driver to view what’s happening.

“We truly believe it’s a breach of confidentiality, mostly towards the public. I know if it was you or I, we wouldn’t want our family members or ourselves in there being videotaped,” says Cupe Local 2974 President Ian Nash.

“And who is actually seeing the videotape and listening to the audio?”

Nash says the cameras are in violation of their collective agreement and employee rights.

“The ideal scenario would be that the cameras are gone and the audio is gone from the inside of the vehicle,” he says. “If the arbitrator awards them [the right to continue] then there has to be some kind of notification that people are on camera. There’s nothing on the ambulance saying that you’re being audio or videotaped.”

Last summer the union held a protest in front of Essex County Council and there was some misunderstanding.

Nothing has been resolved since then and simply put, Nash says the cameras have to go.

“When both you and your partner spend most of your day inside there because the majority of your days you’re on the road, all day. I don’t think they should be listening in on our private conversations,” Nash says.

Essex-Windsor EMS isn’t issuing a public comment until after an arbitration ruling is made.

Both sides have two arbitration dates scheduled in October and November.