The NSGEU/NUPGE is calling on the NSHA to hire more full-time nurses and revert to its long-standing practice of providing nurses with proper compensation.
Halifax (20 Feb. 2019) — The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU/NUPGE) is calling on the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) to deal with the critical shortage of nurses working in the province's health care system.
NSHA shortchanging nurses on overtime
"Working short is the new normal. This leads to increased use of overtime, which, in itself, is a symptom of bigger problems. Put simply, there aren't enough nurses in the system to meet the demand being placed upon them," says Jason MacLean, NSGEU President.
"The NSHA has recently decided to change its practice with respect to overtime, and the problem is getting worse," MacLean continues.
Until recently, a nurse called in to work beyond their normal work hours would receive overtime as outlined in their collective agreement. However, the employer has now changed how it "counts" hours worked, and is using vacation and sick time against these nurses.
Real problem is nursing shortage in Nova Scotia
The decision to suddenly reinterpret the existing language in the nurses' collective agreement is actually preventing the NSHA from fixing a problem they are desperately trying to solve: they don't have enough nurses to fill shifts to ensure the health and safety of both patients and health care providers.
"There is a nursing shortage in Nova Scotia, and the system simply can't function unless nurses agree to work over and above their regularly scheduled hours. Many of our members have chosen not to work such shifts unless paid overtime," says MacLean.
"If the employer would simply revert to its previous, long-standing practice, I suspect many of our members would accept overtime shifts again," says MacLean.
The NSGEU/NUPGE is calling on the NSHA to hire more full-time nurses and revert to its long-standing practice of providing nurses with proper compensation when they take extra time away from their lives and families to keep our health care system running.
"Following all that has happened since the amalgamation of health authorities in 2014, all health care workers are feeling attacked, undervalued and unappreciated and the NSHA is making it worse," says MacLean.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE