After mixed reception to Pride-themed epaulettes for EMS, council seeks policy
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Huron County Council is asking staff to develop a policy regarding additional decals, stickers and epaulettes in an attempt to “get back to basics” and prohibit any additions to the approved uniform.
This direction comes after council received a request from some of the county’s paramedics to fashion their uniforms with Pride-themed epaulettes. Chief of Emergency Services Jeff Horseman noted that blue and pink epaulettes had been approved in 2012 for women’s cancer in October and men’s cancer in November, respectively, adding that, at the time, those were the only alternative epaulettes in circulation in Ontario. This decision was confirmed once again by council in 2019, which decided to continue the allowance.
In the decade since, however, a number of epaulette requests have been made to support mental health initiatives, truth and reconciliation, Pride and more. Furthermore, Horseman noted that, in discussing the request with the local union chapter, that some paramedics are in favour of the requested Pride epaulettes, while others are not.
“The leadership team has also discussed with CUPE that one option available to solve the issue of additional requests for special interest epaulettes coming forward is to remove the pink and blue epaulettes and only allow for the approved uniform black epaulettes to be worn,” Horseman told council in his report. “The option to increase the available epaulette campaigns that Huron County wishes to endorse is also a viable option. In this situation, it would be advisable to develop and implement a policy on how to decide which campaigns to support and implement. Each campaign that is supported or endorsed will require budgeting for the financial purchase of the epaulettes, as well as the time spent in managing the proper use of the epaulettes and the timing of the campaign.”
Horseman noted that, if the county wanted to move forward with Pride-themed epaulettes, the approximate cost to the county would be $4,000, based on two sets for each paramedic (one on duty shirt and one on jacket) at a cost of $20 per pair.
Several councillors spoke to the need for a policy to “get back to basics” in regards to the uniforms, with a feeling that uniforms should be universal and basic and sought a staff report and policy to that effect.
South Huron Mayor George Finch, a retired Ontario Provincial Police officer himself, spoke to the need for uniformity when it comes to uniforms, and felt council should seek a return to that concept.
Council voted in favour of a motion asking for a staff report on a potential policy regarding uniform epaulettes, which will be presented to council at a future meeting.