Health minister thinks essential services legislation will work

Raissa Tetanish
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TRURO – The provincial minister of health and wellness said the government has no plans to repeal the new essential services legislation.

Leo Glavine, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Health and Wellness, spoke at the opening of the Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union annual general meeting yesterday morning in Truro. The meeting goes until Thursday at the Best Western Plus Glengarry. 

Leo Glavine told a crowd of more than 260 gathered for the Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union’s annual general meeting in Truro on Tuesday he believes it’s a model that can work.

“As a 30-year member of the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union, and as a rep, I love the fact of having difficult negotiations to go

through,” said Glavine, during the meeting’s opening ceremon.

“But to realize that, our responsibility was to work it out at the table. That really is the responsibility.”

Glavine told nurses Bill 37 still gives unions the ability to strike and he’s heard two clear messages during the past couple of months since nurses from the Capital Health District Authority spent two days on strike – one illegally and one legally.

“Even as little as 10 per cent of nurses coming out of units floors across the province is unbelievably disruptive. It really is not about the numbers that could be on the picket line or on the sideline. I think even the fact that if you call a strike and had a very small group of people that are presenting to the public of Nova Scotia or any province that this has gone awry in our negotiations, and these are our genuine concerns, you don’t need a building shut down or a whole unit shut down,” he said.

The health minister said a quarter of the province’s population will be 60 years of age or older next year.

“The demographic we now have in front of us is a powerful

force,” he said, adding the second message he’s heard came through phone calls and meetings held throughout the province.

“That is that they want a zero disruption to the health-care system,” he said. “They are putting us on the line as the employer and as unions to work it out at the table. They don’t want their tests cancelled. They don’t want their surgeries put off until summer if it just got cancelled three weeks ago.”

He said the message is one that’s very loud and clear.

“An enormous responsibility on us as an employer and you on the front line of health delivery is we have to work our utmost to make sure there isn’t any disruption.”

Janet Hazelton, president of the nurses’ union, said the union has one major issue.

“We have 138 conversations that could last for weeks,” she said about having a large number of employers. “We could be two years from now before we’re back at the table. That’s what’s frustrating for us … that we have to sit with all those employers. 138 is a significant amount of time and resources.”

Glavine responded by saying changes could be made in the fall and one of the possibilities is one union for registered nurses and one for licensed practical nurses.

The response the health minister got was a deafening ‘boooo.’

“That is one of those things that could happen. I’m just saying …not that we have intentions. I’m just saying that is a possibility,” he said.

Hazelton said the union would like to see the government “enforce our long-term care employers come to one table, to have one conversation.”

Twitter: @TDNRaissa


Organizations: Nova Scotia Nurses, Nova Scotia Teachers, Capital Health District Authority

Geographic location: Truro, Nova Scotia

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