Ontario nurses’ award has two-year wage freeze, increase in third

Union and employer both believe new agreement meets restraint mandate
By Gordon Sova
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 06/03/2011

The 50,000 acute-care nurses in Ontario hospitals will receive lump sums of 1.0 to 1.6 per cent rather than wage increases in the first two years of their new collective agreement.

An award from arbitrator Jane Devlin that was released on June 3 has no wage increases in 2011 or 2012. The Ontario government has been trying to hold broader public sector increases to zero and this is one of the minority of interest arbitrations that has reflected that mandate.

The Ontario Nurses’ Assn. (ONA) declared itself pleased. “The agreement addresses the priority issues of the front-line registered nurses and allied health professionals — the backbone of health care. We also believe that the government’s two-year restraint mandate has been met,” according to Linda Haslam-Stroud, president of the ONA.

Tom Closson, president and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Assn. (OHA), echoed her views. “We believe that this was the best possible award in today’s fiscally constrained environment. The award is consistent with the Government of Ontario’s stated policy directive with respect to compensation restraint.”

The wage increase in the third year will be 2.75 per cent, bringing the top hourly wage for a full-time registered nurse with 25 years of service to $43.61. Shift and weekend premiums increase in each year and vacation steps are moved up.

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