The Council of Nursing Unions has announced a new contract for nurses, something it has been working towards since 2015.
This is the first collective agreement which covers over 7,000 nurses and encompasses four different unions into one agreement for the Nova Scotia Health Authority.
The president of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union, Janet Hazelton, said the agreement will help ensure a more consistency across health authority hospitals.
"So it will apply the same way in Cape Breton, as it will in Truro, as it will in Halifax," she explained. "If they decide to take a part-time job in hospital A and hospital B, then the rules will be the same.”
The contract also ensures a wage increase of 0.5% to 1.5%, which is retroactive to 2014. This is in line with Bill 148 which dictates the wages for nurses in the province.
Janet Hazelton explained, at the end of the day everyone has the same goal, to attract and retain nurses in the province.
“I think we were all pretty apprehensive going into this, we were fairly independent, we did our own thing and we negotiated with our employers," she said. "I think we realized at the end of the process that, regardless of what union you are, we all just want good working conditions for nurses in this province.”
An article has also been created in regards to nurse practitioners in the province.
Hazelton said they are a growing section of nursing within the health authority and we are just starting to understand what effects they are having within communities.
“We did a lot of work and this was with the employers and we had some really good conversations about nurse practitioners and we’re very please with the language that we developed around their working conditions going forward.” Hazelton says.
Another notable change was giving nurses 48 hours notice for any change of scheduled shift. This was something that was increased from 24 hours notice.
Employers have 60 days to educate their nurses on the changes of this collective agreement, which will expire in October 2020.
Hazelton thinks next time around it will be much easier for everyone to agree as it will likely come down to wording.
“From the first article, there was not hardly a page that something wasn’t changed on, and next time we believe it will just be tweaking.”
The effective date of the award is Nov. 30, 2018. Except as otherwise noted specifically in the contract or the award, the new collective agreements take effect 60 days from the date of the award which would be Jan. 30, 2019.