The Capital District Health Authority and its registered nurses have agreed to continue contract negotiations over the weekend after meeting Friday with mediator Bruce Outhouse.

If a deal is made, it would avert a strike. Nurses have threatened the resign en masse if the provincial government brings in essential services legislation that would stall any walkout.

Earlier on Friday, the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union said it would not respond to a letter written by the head of the health authority to union president Joan Jessome.

In the letter, Capital District Health Authority CEO Chris Power says the nurses' threat to resign is "dangerous, reckless and unlawful."

She also promises to take action against any nurse who submits a resignation as a pressure tactic.

The registered nurses at Capital Health say they are trying to prevent what happened to Northwood home support workers earlier this month when they tried to strike.

More than 400 Northwood workers were forced back to work after the government passed the Essential Home-support Services Act.

'Very aggressive'

Jessome said members were not happy with Power’s comments.

"It was very aggressive and it really offended a lot of my members," she said. "Instead of talking about what the issues are, she’s now threatening them. They’re not taking that very lightly and I’m not responding to it.

"We had a meeting after that letter went out and the members were really, really, upset that she’s threatening them with their licences, with discipline, and giving them no credit for knowing what’s right and what’s wrong."

Jessome said even though Capital Health is demanding the union publicly urge its members not to resign and to report back by the end of today, she said she's not going to do that.

Outhouse, the mediator involved in discussions between nurses in the Capital District Health Authority and Capital Health, had negotiating teams on different floors of a hotel Thursday — six storeys apart — attempting to avoid a strike.

He is trying to find middle ground between the union that represents 2,300 nurses and Capital Health.  

The nurses want a fixed ratio of nurses to patient. The district does not.