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Paramedics commuting 7 hours because they can't afford living in Metro Vancouver
Paramedics who find Vancouver "just too expensive" are travelling from as far the B.C. Interior and Vancouver Island to work in the Lower Mainland.
Dave Clark lives in Campbell River, but every four days he drives to Nanaimo, takes the ferry across to North Vancouver and then goes to work. On a good day, the trip takes seven hours, but usually about 10. He spends $700 on the ferry every month.
"We crunched the numbers and financially, it’s still cheaper to live on the island and commute," said the paramedic.
He shares a so-called "hacienda" with eight other guys in Burnaby. The apartment is simple and the furniture is "as cheap as possible." A schedule in the front hall lists who will stay in which room, and in which bed.
Some medics stay in campers. Others commute from Nelson, Kelowna, Kamloops and Vernon to work in Metro Vancouver.
"I know a person who was commuting from Cranbrook, I think he still is," said Clark. "He flies back and forth."
"Some paramedics don't have the ability to pick up and leave and come to the most expensive area to live in Canada," said Ambulance Paramedics of BC president Cameron Eby, who figured senior employees make about $74,000 a year.
Their employer, BC Emergency Health Services, told CTV News it’s just a reality of the profession. Eighty-five per cent of the work is in Metro Vancouver.
Clark works four days on and four days off. He doesn’t like leaving his fiancée, and dreams of what others take for granted: living where he works.
"It definitely affects our home life because I’m only home for really three days of the week."