Capital Health and nurses reach impasse in contract dispute

The Capital District Health Authority and its nurses have reached an impasse after three days of contract negotiations.

Mediator Bruce Outhouse adjourns session on contract talks

The Capital District Health Authority and its nurses have broken off talks after three days of contract negotiations.

Mediator Bruce Outhouse adjourned the session around 6:30 p.m. Sunday evening. 

John Gillis, a spokesman for the Capital District Health Authority, said the health authority made "significant changes" to its proposal to the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union Local 97, to address workload and scheduling issues. However, the union demand to institute nurse-to-patient ratios was not part of that offer, and the union declined.

"Our position on the ratio issue hasn't changed. That's not a step that we're prepared to pursue," Gillis said. 

The health authority has said nurse-to-patient ratios would cost too much.

The impasse comes after a fractious week in which nurses voted Wednesday night to resign en masse if the McNeil government brings in essential services legislation. That prompted a warning from Capital Health that it will launch legal action if nurses follow through with that threat. 

Mediator Bruce Outhouse began meeting with both sides on Friday.

Joan Jessome, the president of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, tweeted Sunday that details would be released to union members at a meeting Sunday evening.  

Local 97, which represents the 2,300 registered nurses, will be in a legal strike position April 3. 

In February nurses voted 90 per cent in favour of strike action. But many are worried the Liberal government will introduce essential services legislation to stall any walkout, similar to the law passed last month that forced Northwood home support workers back to work.

Nurses voted earlier this week to resign for three days if the government targets them with a similar law.

Capital Health CEO Chris Power has called such a prospect "dangerous, unlawful behaviour."