Essential Services Legislation: YOU’RE NEXT.

The Nova Scotia legislature has been recalled for this Friday, as the Liberal government is planning to pass essential services legislation.

Essential services legislation significantly reduces the union’s ability to bargain with any employer. It absolutely diminishes your bargaining power.

Make no mistake. It will shift the balance of power in negotiations strongly in favour of the government. It will badly weaken the bargaining strength of every worker in the province by requiring that a significant portion of workers must stay at work in the event of a strike.

We can say goodbye to our hard-bargained claim to fair wages comparable to similar sized provinces. We can say goodbye to any chance we have of fighting for improved job security, better pensions, better vacation, all battles where we’ve had success over the last few years because we have the right to a fair strike.

So many people will be required at work during a strike that any employer will be well-positioned to gain significant claw-backs at the bargaining table.

This legislation isn’t really about public safety. It’s about control.

Allowing only a small percentage of workers in a bargaining unit to go on strike means there is little incentive to reach a deal. There will be more strikes and every strike will be long and drawn-out.

This legislation will silence our voice and reduces our ability to fight back against a government that is compromising patient care and public services in order to cut costs.

This will drive health care and public sector workers out of Nova Scotia at a time when we’re facing shortages in many areas.


Sign up to speak at Law Amendments Committee. The government has an obligation to hear from constituents on this issue. We need you to speak up and explain why this legislation is bad for workers, and Nova Scotia.

Please scroll down for information about Law Amendments.

It’s easy: sign up by calling 424-8941. Ask to be put on the list of presenters for the bill to Ensure the Provision of Essential Home Support Services. You can do this even if there is a chance you might later change your mind about going before the Committee. Someone with the Legislative Counsel Office will call you back with possible dates and times for your presentation.When you will go to meet with the Committee, you will likely be one of 3 or 4 presenters for that hour. Each presenter is supposed to have 5-10 minutes. While you are free to speak to the Committee without any written notes, it is usually easier and more effective if you write down or type your key points on 1-2 pages, if you have time to do this.

Also, please send a message to your MLA, Minister of Health and Premier!

Thank you for your time and support on this very important issue!



Some Key Points to Raise with the Law Amendments Committee On The Essential Home support Services (2014) Act


I am a _______________ who has worked for ______ years. I work with ______________.


  • I do not support this Bill or any other form of essential services legislation for Nova Scotia.
  • This Bill isn’t really about patient safety. It’s clearly about control and saving money.
  • Just like the Harper government, this legislation is being introduced with no public discussion
  • Home support workers deserve our thanks for the work they do, but they also deserve a fair wage. They are only asking for what people doing the same jobs in hospitals already have.
  • I can assure you that healthcare workers care about their patients. In the acute care sector, that’s why we have always worked with the employer to put in place an emergency services plan. We know their clients’ and patients’ needs better than any third-party adjudicator.
  • Even the government acknowledges that 97% of cases are resolved without a strike.  So why are they doing this?
  • Allowing only a small percentage of workers in a bargaining unit to go on strike means there’s little incentive to reach a deal.  Long, drawn-out strikes aren’t good for healthcare workers or patients.
  • Longer strikes mean longer surgery delays and appointments that can’t be rescheduled for months.
  • Healthcare workers fight for their patients and for safe health care.  This silences our voice and reduces our power to fight back against a government that is compromising patient care to cut costs.
  •  This creates a poisoned environment for health care workers.
  •  This will drive health care workers out of Nova Scotia at a time when we’re facing “alarming” shortages.
  • Other provinces have tried versions of this kind of law, and it’s led to worsening labour relations.
  • In 2010 while in opposition, Stephen McNeil said emergency service plans should be hammered out in times of labour peace, not days before a possible strike, and essential services legislation in other provinces hasn’t stopped labour unrest and strikes.
  • This proposed legislation is unworkable considering the very broad definition of “essential home support service” and the complicated process to be followed to reach an essential services agreement.
  • It would be much more cost-effective to have the parties negotiating to reach a fair and reasonable collective agreement.
  • The Bill could be a template for taking away the right to strike for any group of workers deemed to be essential to the government of the day.
  • For all these reasons, I strongly urge the McNeil government to withdraw this Bill, and instead, put pressure on our employers to return to the bargaining table to reach an agreement.
  • I appreciate this opportunity to speak to the Law Amendments Committee at this time.


Information about Going To Speak Before The Law Amendments Committee – Call 424-8941

 1.         The Law Amendments Committee is made up of Members of the Legislature (MLAs) from each of the political parties represented in the Legislature (including Liberal, PC and NDP members).

2.         Its job is to receive public input on all government Public Bills or legislation during each session of the Legislature after they each have gone through second reading or debate in the Legislature on the principle of that Bill.

3.         Then, the members of the Committee do a detailed or clause-by-clause review of each Bill to decide if they should recommend any changes or amendments back to the Legislature.  Sometimes, the government minister responsible for a Bill will give the Committee his or her suggestions for needed changes, usually at the start of the discussion on a particular Bill.

4.         After the Committee finishes its work on each Bill, it reports back to the Legislature before debate in detail begins on any given Bill in what is called Committee of the Whole House on Bills (that is, having the Legislature operate as one big committee). Each Bill then goes on for third and final reading and royal assent before the Bill can become law at that time or later after being proclaimed by the government.

5.         Anyone can appear before the Law Amendments Committee to make a presentation on a Bill.  It is not only for lawyers, so-called experts or even just groups and organizations.  Individuals are also welcome to speak to the Committee.

6.         To appear before the Committee, you must call in advance and get on the list of possible presenters.  To do so, you must contact the Legislative Counsel Office at 424-8941, and ask to be put on the list of presenters for a specific Bill.  You can do this even if there is a chance you might later change your mind about going before the Committee. 

7.         The Committee presently has 9 members (5 Liberal Government MLAs, 2 PC MLAs and 2 NDP MLAs).  The Chairperson is Lena Diab (the Minister of Justice). 

8.         When the Committee is ready to hear people on a specific Bill, someone with the Legislative Counsel Office will call you back with possible dates and times for your presentation.  It is possible that you will only receive 1-2 days’ notice and maybe even less than a day’s notice.  

9.         When you will go to meet with the Committee, you will likely be one of 3 or 4 presenters for that hour.   Each presenter is supposed to have 5-10 minutes. 

10.       While you are free to speak to the Committee without any written notes, it is usually easier and more effective if you write down or type your key points on 1-2 pages, if you have time to do this. 

11.       When it is your turn to speak before the Committee, the Chairperson will ask you to come forward and sit at a table in front of the Committee.  You are usually asked to make a few opening comments or read your presentation.  To help you feel more relaxed, it might be good to have another person to sit with you.

12.       After you make your comments or read your presentation, the Chairperson will ask if any Committee member will ask has any questions or comments for you.  Generally speaking, only the NDP or PC members will ask 1 or 2 questions, usually to help support your concerns or suggestions. 

13.       If someone should ask you a question you are not sure how to answer, just indicate the main reason why you wanted to come and briefly repeat your main points.

14.       If you feel that you don’t have much to say to the Committee, just remember you probably know far more than anyone on the Committee about what it is like to work in healthcare. As far as they are concerned, you are the expert.  The main thing is that you are speaking as a NSGEU member who works in healthcare.  You want a fair contract with the same pay for people doing the same job in hospitals, and you don’t want to see the right to strike taken away for any group of healthcare workers.

15.       It is probably easiest if you start your presentation to the Committee by telling them who you are (such as I have been working for …years as a………) and why you are coming before the Committee (such as I am here in support of a fair contract and to oppose any move to take away our right to strike).

  1. If you can’t attend, please send by fax a letter or written comments to the Legislative Counsel Office at (902) 424-0547 (fax) or (email).

For more information, please contact Dave Lawrence at 456-8765 (cell) or Ian Johnson at 476-4355 (cell).  Please let us know if you have been called to speak before the Committee and for what time.



6 Responses to Essential Services Legislation: YOU’RE NEXT.

  1. Shelley February 28, 2014 at 8:11 am #

    Fellow members we must stand together as a united front, this is not acceptable. Nova Scotia sets precedence in how we care for others.
    Please share support now, It affects everyone!

  2. Omeda swinemar February 28, 2014 at 10:41 am #

    Wage parity is fair and it’s what these hard working me and women deserve.

    • jackie March 7, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

      the MLA”S decided to high five themselves after passing the bill to make all homeworkers essential,how degrading they are,when people stood up to speak,they yawned,tapped their pencils,spoke to one another and this what we elected to run the province,well may i say,first of all you need brains to run a province—and you people are certainly clueless,no backbone what so ever,ignorant,my cat has more brains than all of you put together,and the best is yet to come,,,because when all of you meet your maker—-HE SEES AND HEARS EVERYTHING and it’s going to HOT where you’re headed

  3. Darlene. Crittenden February 28, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

    Mr McNeil,

    Would you please ask your HCNS clients to put a value on the quality of care that we provide as HSW”s in peoples homes. I think you will not be surprized to hear the majority will say the Home support Workers are well worth every cent they receive. I work hard for my money as do my co workers. We derserve to be paid well for what we do
    Thank you

  4. Angela Crook LPN February 28, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

    I am an LPN who used to work as a home support worker when I was in school. Working in Health Care no matter your position is a rewarding and challenging job to have. We choose to work in the an area which we feel passionate about and feel that we can make the biggest difference in. As health care providers we work various shifts, holidays and miss out on special events that occur in our lives, which we are well aware is “part of the job”. However we should have the oppurtinity to stand up for what “perks” we do have in order to maintain a balance between our work and home lives. If we are happy at work than we are more willing to come to work and our attitudes are reflected in our work, thus reducing sick time, working short staffed and poor attitudes. Health care effects everyone in our city and provice and by not supporting the health care workers you are essentially putting the people you serve at risk. As potliticians you are supposed to be for the people and to do whats best for the people you servce which today is not being done as there are thousands of citicians that need assistance and care that have been left alone today to fend for themselves. Please remember that this could be effecting a loved one now or in the future. Keep in mind that one day you may need these services that you are cutting back on.

  5. Jennifer Gravel February 28, 2014 at 9:55 pm #

    Submitted to the Law Amendments Committee by email:

    “My name is Jennifer Gravel. I have been employed as a Continuing Care Coordinator for the past 15 years. I assess and authorize home support services along with many other programs and services provided by Continuing Care.

    When I was hired and orientated to my position it was made clear to me that home supports and other programs under our mandate were not emergency services. We have a priority coding system for determining the urgency of assessment. Then we have a similar coding for determining the urgency of service start. Currently in the Annapolis Valley we have a waiting list of over 2800 hours of home support. I have watched clients wait up to one year for service to start because they were considered to be a low priority in previous waitlist times. It is hard for me to understand why this service is suddenly “essential” when it has been the practice of the Department of Health and Wellness to allow waiting lists to exist for extended periods of time. The fact that we have very frail and vulnerable people in their homes is due to the limits we have on facility beds both in acute and long term care and the push to discharge patients to their homes with brittle supports in place.

    I spoke with a CCA today who was providing respite to a client’s husband. She chose her job as a second career and does it because she loves to help clients “have a better day”. She works days, evenings, weekends and holidays. She is required to be available two hours extra each day without pay, beyond her paid shift. In the last round of bargaining she accepted the 1% wage increase offered each year. That contract expired two years ago and now she would like to be compensated at the same rate of pay as a newly graduated CCA who takes a job in a long term care facility. I think that sounds fair.

    This essential service legislation is not needed to move the bargaining process along. The union has always been willing to sit at the table to negotiate and if that failed to move to arbitration. We need a process that respects the workers and allows them to ask for a fair settlement. When this government claims it can’t afford to make a fair settlement I wonder if there is an understanding that Nova Scotians can’t afford to cut corners when it comes to trying to attract and keep competent trained staff in a role that we have said is important to the overall health strategy. What is needed is a thoughtful approach to caring for those who need supports that involves wide-ranging policy around supports for families to care for loved ones at home through employment leave, the dementia care strategy, respite care and other initiatives.

    As a member of Local 95, I am saddened by this legislation and worried that it will serve as a template to interfere with my right to have a negotiated settlement to my contract talks. There is no need for this move other than what I perceive to be this Liberal government pushing to take away bargaining rights from all health care workers in the province. Please reconsider and withdraw this Bill. Let’s get back to the bargaining table and reach a fair agreement as soon as possible.”

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