Nova Scotia nurses top in Maritimes after arbitrator’s ruling

Decision is expected to add millions of dollars to Nova Scotia’s health budget
||Last Updated: 11/02/2011

About 2,500 nurses who work at Nova Scotia's largest health authority have received an arbitration award that will provide a 7.1 per cent wage increase over the life of their three-year contract, according to their union.

The members of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU) accepted an offer from employer Capital District Health Authority (CDHA) in July 2011, but sent outstanding issues, such as wage increases, to arbitration.

The nurses will see the increases as follows:

  • a one per cent increase in the first and second years;
  • changes to the collective agreement's wage steps, effective in the third year, that will mean increases of around 3.5 per cent, according to the union; and
  • a 1.6 per cent wage increase on May 1, 2012.

The new agreement is retroactive to Nov. 1, 2009.

“We are pleased the award defends the principle of leading in Atlantic Canada,” says NSGEU Local 97 president Joan Jessome. “Although we are not able to catch up to Newfoundland and Labrador RNs at this time, the award puts us in a strong position to achieve our goal in future rounds of bargaining.”

The details agreed upon earlier include a $15 overtime meal allowance, improvements to vacation entitlements, recognition of alternative religious holidays and an increase from $1.50 to $1.75 for shift and weekend premiums.

In negotiations, the union was asking for four per cent per year and the CDHA was offering one per cent per year over a two-year agreement.

Financial implications are unknown

The arbitrator’s decision is expected to add millions of dollars to Nova Scotia’s health budget, but the long-term implications are unknown.

“We need to assess now what that means in terms of health expenditures and that work is underway and I will work with the district health authority to look at how we move forward and implement the arbitrator’s ruling,” Health Minister Maureen MacDonald said in a press conference. “We’re still doing an evaluation of the decision to establish what the financial implications are.”

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