N.S. moves to centralized health care

Bill 1 restructures bargaining units from 50 units to 4
By Sabrina Nanji
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 10/14/2014

As protesters and police butted heads outside Nova Scotia’s legislature, inside, the hotly-contested Bill 1 was passed, signalling a monumental shift for health care labour relations — and the possibility that other provinces will follow suit.

Bill 1, otherwise known as the Health Authorities Act, passed on Oct. 3, much to the chagrin of unions. Under the new legislation, the province’s nine district health authorities will be merged into one province-wide employer (the women and children-focused IWK Health Centre is to remain a standalone entity), and the 50 bargaining units will be reduced to four. Essentially, the legislation merges bargaining units, and one will be responsible for negotiating for all health care employees of that particular faction — nursing, health care, clerical or service staff. As well, all strikes will be banned until 2015, with any impasses to be handled within 45 days each by a mediator and then, barring an agreement, an arbitrator.

The move was intended to streamline the labyrinthine collective bargaining process, a belaboured feat in the province, according to the government, as well as a cost-cutting measure.