Nova Scotia

Health-care workers in Nova Scotia accept collective agreement

The new collective agreement will see pay raises over the course of the contract and other improvements.

Wages will go up 5% over three years of the contract

About 7,500 health care workers, including those at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, have accepted a new contract. (Brian MacKay/CBC)

Thousands of health-care workers in Nova Scotia have accepted a new collective agreement, which will see pay raises over the course of the contract and other improvements.

The deal was reached last Tuesday between the council of health-care unions and employers Nova Scotia Health and the IWK Health Centre in Halifax. It then went to 7,500 members within the council for a ratification vote.

According to a release from the council on Wednesday, 82 per cent of members cast their ballot to accept the agreement.

"These workers are dedicated to their jobs, and they have stepped up for Nova Scotians in a very big way throughout this pandemic," Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union president Jason MacLean said in the release.

"We are pleased we were ultimately able to negotiate an agreement with their employers and government that begins to get them back on track to where they need to be: leading in Atlantic Canada."

Jason MacLean, NSGEU president, says the wage raises within the new contract put Nova Scotia workers on par with other provinces. (CBC)

The members include all non-nursing health-care workers, including lab technologists, physiotherapists, social workers and mental health clinicians. They are represented by the NSGEU, the Canadian Union of Public Employees and Unifor.

The contract is effective from Nov. 1, 2020 to Oct. 31, 2023.

It includes an overall 5.5 per cent wage increase for all pay grades. It rolls out by increasing wages 1.5 per cent, retroactive to Nov.1, 2020, then increasing 1.5 per cent each year on the same date until 2023, when it will go up 1 per cent on Oct. 31.

There are also additional wage increases for care team assistants, amounting to 2 per cent on the date of ratification and 3 per cent on June 1, 2022.

The contract also matches acute care paramedics' rates of pay to those of the International Union of Operating Engineers, retroactive to Nov. 1, 2020.

A joint "equity, diversity, inclusion and reconciliation" committee composed of equal representation from employers and the unions will also be formed as part of the deal.

Premier Iain Rankin says the contract ensures stability in the health-care system as Nova Scotia emerges from the third wave of COVID-19. (Communications Nova Scotia)

"This is a fair and balanced agreement that recognizes the hard work and commitment of our health-care workers in helping Nova Scotia through this pandemic while also being affordable for all Nova Scotians," Premier Iain Rankin said in a release.

"It will ensure stability in the delivery of health-care services for Nova Scotians and bring much needed certainty as we emerge from this third wave of COVID-19 and a year and a half of challenges and uncertainty."

Union leadership had recommended ratifying the deal.

Northwood also reaches agreement

Meanwhile, the union representing more than 520 long-term care workers in Halifax have reached a tentative agreement with continuing-care organization Northwood.

The tentative agreement was reached last Thursday and was expected to be presented to members for a ratification vote in the days following, according to a news release from Unifor.

Details of the new contract will be released if it is ratified.