More than 4,600 nurses represented by the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union voted Friday to accept new three-year contracts for both acute care and long-term care.
Nurses at the IWK Health Centre and all other hospitals in the province, accepted the acute care deal, which is retroactive to Nov. 1, 2006 and expires Nov. 1, 2009. That contract was accepted by 92 per cent of those who cast ballots.
At the same time, nurses working in 23 long-term care facilities, all members of the Nova Scotia Association of Health Organizations, ratified a new contract with their employers across the province. That agreement was accepted by 91 per cent of those who voted. The long-term care contract is also in effect for three years.
The contracts include a wage increase of 2.9 per cent a year for three years, the same hike as was offered to nurses who work for the Capital District Health Authority. There are also incentives to try to retain veteran nurses, including more money for those in education and leadership roles.
Janet Hazelton, NSNU president, said she's happy that both contracts have been ratified.
"I think it's important that the nurses working in the province are happy with their terms and conditions. I'm really pleased that they got an opportunity to vote on this collective agreement," Hazelton said.
"This high turnout to vote shows that the nurses are interested in their working conditions, and they did take the time to vote. The democratic process is alive and well, and the right to accept or reject an offer is still an option for nurses in this province."
Last fall, the minority Tory government introduced legislation to take away the right to strike from health-care workers in Nova Scotia. The government withdrew the legislation because neither the New Democratic Party nor the Liberal party would support it.
The nurses' union is still in negotiations with community care and long-term care employers outside of the Nova Scotia Association of Health Organizations.
It is also preparing to meet with Canadian Blood Services representatives in coming months.