“While we are disappointed he did not accept our potential remedy, his ruling leaves open the opportunity that constitutional rights will be respected in his final arbitration decision.” — Joan Jessome, NSGEU President.
Halifax (24 Nov. 2014) — Arbitrator James Dorsey ruled on November 20 that he will hear arguments asking him to interpret Bill 1, The Health Authorities Act, in a manner that respects the constitutional rights of health care workers in Nova Scotia. James Dorsey was appointed by Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil to handle the mediation/arbitration arising from the amalgamation of health authorities across the province.
Dorsey rules against considering remedies proposed by NSGEU/NUPGE but agrees to hear arguments challenging the constitutionality of the Health Authorities Act as it affects health care workers' rights
Mr. Dorsey, however, also ruled that the specific remedies sought in the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU/NUPGE) application, challenging the constitutionality of the legislation, were beyond his jurisdiction.
The NSGEU/NUPGE’s application had included several potential remedies to address the constitutional breaches within Bill 1: one was to strike out the unconstitutional portions of Bill 1 altogether during the arbitration process. Mr. Dorsey disagreed with this remedy.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees made a separate application, asking the arbitrator to hear arguments which propose ways that the arbitrator may interpret the legislation to ensure it is constitutionally compliant. Mr. Dorsey has not yet ruled on their application, but has indicated he will take written submissions concerning their application.
“We had outlined several options for Mr. Dorsey to consider. Any of those options would ensure constitutional rights were protected,” says NSGEU President Joan Jessome. “While we are disappointed he did not accept our potential remedy, his ruling leaves open the opportunity that constitutional rights will be respected in his final arbitration decision.”
Jessome added, “The most important thing to consider is: in the end, will the constitutional rights of health care workers be protected or not? If not, it will only make health shortages worse in this province.”
It is important to note that Mr. Dorsey’s decision does not affect the jurisdiction of the Courts. The NSGEU/NUPGE still intends to request other remedies from the mediator/arbitrator during the arbitration hearings, as Mr. Dorsey’s decision did not make any rulings concerning the constitutionality of Bill 1.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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