The NSGEU is calling on the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) to deal with the critical shortage of nurses working in Nova Scotia’s health care system.
“Working short is the new normal. This leads to increased use of overtime, which in itself is a symptom of bigger problems. Put simply, there aren’t enough nurses in the system to meet the demand being placed upon them,” says NSGEU President Jason MacLean.
“The NSHA has recently decided to change its practice with respect to overtime, and the problem is getting worse.”
Until recently, a nurse called in to work beyond their normal work hours would receive overtime as outlined in their collective agreement. However, the employer has now changed how it “counts” hours worked, and is using vacation and sick time against these nurses.
The decision to suddenly reinterpret the existing language in the nurses’ collective agreement is actually preventing the NSHA from fixing a problem they are desperately trying to solve: they don’t have enough nurses to fill shifts to ensure the health and safety of both patients and health care providers.
“There is a nursing shortage in Nova Scotia, and the system simply can’t function unless nurses agree to work over and above their regularly scheduled hours. Many of our members have chosen not to work such shifts unless paid overtime,” says MacLean.
“If the employer would simply revert to its previous, long-standing practice, I suspect many of our members would accept overtime shifts again.”
The NSGEU is calling on the NSHA to hire more full-time nurses and revert to its long-standing practice of providing nurses with proper compensation when they take extra time away from their lives and families to keep our health care system running.
“Following all that has happened since the amalgamation of health authorities in 2014, all health care workers are feeling attacked, undervalued and unappreciated and the NSHA is making it worse,” says MacLean.
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The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union represents over 31,000 women and men who provide quality public services Nova Scotians count on every day.
For more information or to arrange an interview with NSGEU President Jason MacLean, please contact:
Holly Fraughton, NSGEU Communications Officer