Vancouver Island’s rural areas are experiencing a paramedic shortage, according to the union that represents B.C.’s paramedics and dispatchers.

It’s part of a province-wide shortage that’s worse in the Lower Mainland, where, on a regular basis, 25 to 30 per cent of ambulances are out service due to a lack of staff, according to Cameron Eby, president of Ambulance Paramedics of B.C., CUPE Local 873.

“In the small and medium-sized communities, and that’d be the remote places like Port Renfrew or Zeballos, we’re seeing a real problem trying to recruit paramedics into those positions because they’re not actually paid regular positions. They’re on call, paid-by-the-event, ” Eby said.

Eby said that people who work those positions are often new grads, who then move to large centres.

In a statement today, the province said it has added 119 new full-time and part-time paramedic positions across B.C. as of January 2019, including 14 full-time equivalents in Vancouver and 30 full-time positions in the Nanaimo area.

Currently, the province and the union are negotiating a new contract.

Calvin To