VANCOUVER -- The union representing paramedics in British Columbia is speaking out amid calls to defund local police forces.

"These women and men are integral to a safe and just society and do not deserve to be stereotyped in a negative way based on the actions of a few," reads a statement released by Ambulance Paramedics of BC. 

It comes after the Vancouver chapter of Black Lives Matter released a series of demands for the city in the fight to end systemic racism. 

The first item on that list was to take away some funding from the Vancouver Police Department's $340 million budget and redirect it to other initiatives that are focused on mental health. 

It's a notion that has been gaining traction in Canadian cities, as well as across the border as the Black Lives Matter movement continues to grip the nation. 

Ambulance Paramedics of BC said with the spotlight being shone on police, there's been a significant spike in how people perceive law enforcement officers in the province.

"It's a difficult job to be a police officer in the best of times, and right now, police forces are facing unprecedented negativity," the statement reads. 

"The level of negativity towards peace and police officers in British Columbia has also risen dramatically, including social media postings, protests and verbal abuse at police officer’s places of work and even activities that, at any other place of employment or public space, would be considered inappropriate at best and harassment by most."

The paramedics' union said they do not condone racism or an abuse of power but that defunding police is not the answer.

"Vilifying the men and women who put on a uniform every day and are asked to protect citizens and promote order is not productive, nor beneficial in addressing the issues," they said.

"The overwhelming majority of peace and police officers go to work every day to serve and protect in extremely difficult and challenging work environments with integrity and pride."

Ambulance Paramedics of BC said they are thankful for the work police do on a daily basis and they believe the general public should be as well. 

"Multiple times every day, they assist and protect us on calls, many of which are related to mental health emergencies," they said.

"While we have always advocated for greater access to mental health and addictions professionals for patients in crisis, the fact is, many of these calls are volatile and potentially violent and require law enforcement intervention for everyone’s protection."