Nova Scotia

Union reaches tentative agreement with Northwood

The union representing more than 500 long-term care workers reached a tentative agreement with Northwood on Thursday.

Deal for long-term care workers at Halifax campus to head to ratification vote

Northwood's Halifax location is the largest long-term care facility in the province. (Robert Short/CBC)

The union representing more than 520 long-term care workers in Halifax has reached a tentative agreement with continuing-care organization Northwood. 

The tentative agreement was reached Thursday, and will be presented to members for a ratification vote in the coming days, according to a news release Friday from Unifor. Details of the new contract will be released if it is ratified.

Unifor Local 4606 represents the workers at the Halifax campus of the long-term care home. The union said it has been bargaining since April 21 for better pay and working conditions, including improvements to health and safety and new measures to address staffing problems.

Unifor was expecting a response from Northwood by June 29, but the union said negotiations were stalled until the provincial government could resolve a separate dispute with other health-care unions.

Northwood is a not-for-profit and relies on government funding, so it was required to wait for a mandate from the government.

On July 6, a deal was reached between the council of health-care unions and the employers, the provincial health authority and the IWK Health Centre in Halifax. This allowed Unifor and Northwood to resume contract talks and reach a tentative agreement.

53 residents at the Northwood Halifax Campus died of COVID-19. (Robert Short/CBC)

Northwood staff, ranging from continuing-care assistants and licensed practical nurses to cooks and laundry workers, will be covered under this new agreement, if it is ratified, according to Unifor.

The union said workers believed they deserved a new contract after facing the first wave of the pandemic, when 345 Northwood residents and staff were infected by COVID-19, and 53 residents died.

"The bargaining committee worked hard to achieve improvements for these workers, who bore the brunt of the COVID crisis in long-term care in Nova Scotia," Unifor Atlantic regional director Linda MacNeil said in the release. 

"They suffered the emotional and physical strain of a deadly outbreak while continuing to care for residents and deserve a fair wage and workplace protections."