Manitoba

Nurses union finalizes collective agreement with Manitoba government after over 4 years without a contract

The Manitoba Nurses Union, which represents more than 12,000 nurses in the province, voted to ratify a tentative deal with the provincial government on Thursday, sealing the deal after 4½ years without a contract.

Deal will help recruit, retain staff, protect nurses from 'inordinately' long shifts: Manitoba Nurses Union

Nurses are pictured in the medical intensive care unit at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre. The union that represents Manitoba nurses and the Manitoba government reached a collective agreement Thursday. (Mikaela Mackenzie/Winnipeg Free Press/The Canadian Press)

Thousands of nurses in Manitoba can breathe a sigh of relief after their union helped seal the deal on a long-term collective agreement with the province after more than four years without a contract.

The Manitoba Nurses Union, which represents more than 12,000 nurses in the province, finalized a vote to ratify a tentative deal with the provincial government Thursday.

"It truly was a long four-and-a-half years without a collective agreement," MNU president Darlene Jackson said in a statement. "There is still work to be done to address the significant weaknesses in our health-care system, but the improvements in this contract are a necessary and positive first step in addressing nurses' serious concerns."

The union said the focus of its bargaining committee was to reach a fair agreement that emphasizes the importance of staff recruitment and retention, wage increases, other financial incentives and a commitment to a "better work/life balance."

Manitoba continues to experience a critical nursing shortage that preceded the pandemic but was exacerbated by the crush of COVID-19 patients in hospital, MNU said. That caused mandatory overtime for nursing staff at some facilities and redeployment in other cases.

The union says the new deal includes protections against "inordinately long consecutive hours of work and durations of standby."

It addresses shift premiums, overtime, meal and isolation allowance, academic allowance entitlement, the union said, as well as earmarking $4 million annually devoted to recruiting and retaining staff.

The Manitoba government congratulated nurses and their union on the agreement.

"This mutual agreement is a testament to the hard work and commitment of the leadership and negotiating teams of both sides," Premier Kelvin Goertzen and Health Minister Audrey Gordon said in a joint statement.

"Throughout this unprecedented pandemic, our dedicated nurses have heroically delivered the care that all Manitobans depend upon. Once again, we salute them for their abilities, their compassion and their unwavering sense of commitment when their special skills have been needed most."

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