Nfld. & Labrador

No pay equity settlement: Sullivan

The province's Finance Minister Loyola Sullivan says even though his government's financial position is improving, it won't settle an $80 million pay equity dispute with health-care workers.

The province's Finance Minister Loyola Sullivan says even though his government's financial position is improving, it won't settle an $80 million pay equity dispute with health-care workers.

The fight goes back to the early 1990s when the Clyde Wells government reneged on a pay equity agreement for workers in female-dominated professions.

Last year, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the workers had been discriminated against, but the move was justified because of the province's poor financial situation.

Even with a projected surplus, Sullivan says the province still has significant financial problems, and no legal obligation to pay for the decisions of a former government.

"We can't, you know, go back for 15, 20, 25 years and deal with all the instances of any former government," he says.

Sullivan says paying down the provincial debt is a bigger priority.

NAPE president Carol Furlong says the government owes a debt to its female employees.

"The government may not have a legal obligation, but they certainly have a moral obligation to those in the health-care sector who were acknowledged to be discriminated against because of their gender," she says.

Furlong says while NAPE will keep fighting for the pay equity award, public pressure is the only hope the union has.

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