Nurses rally for higher mileage

Hundreds of community care nurses parked their cars and held a noisy rally outside the Richmond hotel where their contract talks resumed on Wednesday.

They're angry with the employers' offer of a one-cent-per-kilometre increase for the use of their vehicles.

The nurses are currently paid 38 cents per kilometre when they use their cars to go to patients. They want that increased to $1.25.

Nurse Carl Meadows says even that isn't enough. "I would like to see perhaps a benefit such as our MLA's who get a $500 a month vehicle allowance. I doubt that we would get something that rich but it's definitely something to look at," he says.

Debbie Picco is a home care nurse in Maple Ridge. "We're frustrated with the way we are treated," she says. "We're frustrated with the way we have to use our own cars and subsidize the health-care system."

The rally continued while Industrial Inquiry Commissioner Vince Ready began meeting with both sides in the nurses dispute.

B.C. Nurses Union President Debra MacPherson says increasing mileage rates for community care nurses is the number two priority for the union after a wage increase. The nurses are demanding a pay hike of 60% over three years.