Community Service: Paramedics without Borders

In 2007, I was the Director of Projects for the BC Ambulance Service. In this role I had a chance to explore the evolution of the paramedic profession with others from North America, Australia, and New Zealand. I also had previous exposure as an instructor to Malaysia and Hong Kong systems. I had a vision of a world where the paramedic profession would not have borders. 

At this time, Canada was trying to remove its own internal labour mobility borders through the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) – and the paramedic profession was seen as non-compliant. Forget barriers between countries – there were barriers between provinces without crosswalks to make it easy to move between provinces. My vision of Paramedics without Borders, and working in BC, put me in the lead role to sort out the requirements for the paramedic profession to comply with the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement with Alberta (TILMA). In less than a year, we had made significant progress in becoming compliant when the Federal Government decided that the work should extend across Canada for the AIT. I became the Project Manager to lead the initiative to get all provincial regulators to comply with AIT. 

The regulation landscape varied across provinces and there was no agreement on education standards. To complicate things, there were 19 different license levels. It took three years working with the federal government and all the provinces to persuade the regulators to recognize a paramedic license from another province. 

Convincing provinces to agree was not easy. It required communication, understanding and transparency. In these three years, we formed the Canadian Organization of Paramedic Regulators (COPR); agreed on four license levels; created and implemented a national entry to practice exams for two of the levels; and became compliant with the AIT. My vision for Paramedics within Canada had been realized. 

I believe I have made a lasting contribution to my profession. I have retired and am exploring new ways to contribute to my community through open communication, understanding and transparency. 

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