Nova Scotia

Capital Health RNs vote to strike

Thousands of registered nurses in the Halifax region have taken another step towards a strike.

Thousands of registered nurses in the Halifax region have taken another step towards a strike.

The members of Local 97 of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union rejected a contract offer of a one per cent raise in each of the last two years.

The union says 71 per cent of the membership voted and 89 per cent backed a walkout.

The nurses are employees of the Capital District Health Authority. They work in operating rooms and mental health units, except at Dartmouth General Hospital and the IWK Health Centre.

NSGEU president Joan Jessome said the nurses want wage parity with their counterparts in New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador.

"What they are looking for is to maintain their position of leading in Atlantic Canada," she said Tuesday. "And today, even with the one and one, they are just above P.E.I."

The union is asking a conciliator to file a report, which would trigger a two-week countdown to a strike.

The union says it's preparing for a walkout and is talking with the health district about providing emergency services.

Jessome said the government can avoid a walkout by making a new offer.

If the registered nurses strike, they will be the first provincial employees to refuse one-per-cent raises offered by the provincial government.