Nova Scotia

Northwood union preparing to strike next week

Families with relatives at Nova Scotia's largest nursing home are bracing for a strike.

Families with relatives at Nova Scotia's largest nursing home are bracing for a strike.

The Canadian Auto Workers Union said Friday that 52 per cent of members voted to reject Northwood Care's latest offer at meetings on Thursday and Friday.

The union represents about 550 workers and said 75 per cent had voted.

A spokesperson for the union has said they could be off the job as early as next week.

The unionized workers include licensed practical nurses, care workers, dietary, environmental and maintenance staff, as well as beauty salon employees.

Families and residents of the nursing home are still hoping for a resolution.

Cathy Armsworthy is used to taking care of her aunt Shirley, a quadriplegic patient at Northwood.

"She's all the time calling me 'I need to do a few more things for me, just in case the strike comes up and I don't want you to have to cross the picket line'," said Armsworthy.

That's the situation many families are bracing for at Northwood.

Heather Hardiman is anxious about the potential strike because her mother has Alzheimer's and needs someone nearby constantly.

"She falls a lot. She needs to be fed, otherwise she wouldn't eat, other than chocolate bars."

John Verlinden, director of communications at Northwood, said the nursing home would cancel programs not directly related to care.

He said they'd fall back on nurses who aren't in the union, management employees with a nursing background, volunteers and family members.

Altogether, he thinks Northwood can muster between 200 and 300 people.

Despite the inconvenience it will cause, Armsworthy and many other families are supportive of the workers.

"It's a lot to deal with, it really is. But, I really hope it doesn't come down to it."

And while Armsworthy is prepared to take on her aunt's needs, she's still hoping the Northwood and its workers reach a settlement.