Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union demands same pay bump after arbitration award

The Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union says a 12 per cent pay increase awarded earlier this week to hundreds of licensed practical nurses who work in Halifax, should be extended to their counterparts across the province.

The decision was made by independent arbitrator after the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union argued the scope of practice and responsibilities of its members employed by the health authority in the Halifax region had been expanded.

The retroactive pay bump that could see some nurses get as much as $36,000 dates back to the union’s formal complaint in March 2014.

Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union president Janet Hazelton says 1,300 of the licensed practical nurses her union represents are now demanding “immediate action” on having the pay raise extended to them.

Hazelton says they are doing the same work across the province and any disparity in compensation is “egregious.”

Hazelton said the matter of parity in pay is important to the province’s health system.

“We don’t want to be creating an atmosphere where nurses and others want to go work in metro (Halifax) because there is a 12 per cent difference in pay,” she said. “It’s going to make it a lot more difficult to recruit and retain (rural) staff .”

Hazelton said the ruling comes after nurses and other health workers outside of Halifax fought for years and finally got wage equity.

“This has put that off balance and we need to right it again,” she said.

Hazelton said the union is attempting to set up meetings with Health Department officials and the Nova Scotia Health Authority to discuss the need for a satisfactory resolution.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2020.

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