Halifax: NSGEU President Joan Jessome is asking why Premier Stephen McNeil seems intent on disregarding the solution put forward by labour for health authority restructuring after remarks the Premier made today indicating that he may use legislation to take away the democratic rights of workers to decide which union represents them.
“Nova Scotians have been through health care restructuring before under a previous Liberal government. We know the disruption it can cause for patients and for health care workers. That’s why health care unions came together to offer the Premier an olive branch and shield patients from that disruption. Changing union representation while also undergoing a restructuring would be extremely stressful for workers and patients: government should allow unions to represent their members without their interference. I’m disappointed that the Premier is ignoring these concerns, and is focused instead on taking away the democratic rights of health care workers.”
NSGEU, CUPE, Unifor, NSNU and the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour all signed on to a letter to Premier McNeil and Minister of Health and Wellness Leo Glavine in February, putting forward a plan to make sure that health care workers be allowed to remain with their current unions.
Jessome also noted that the McNeil government seems to be taking an ad hoc approach to their major restructuring of vital health care services. In Question Period last week, Regan said “I have no plans to introduce any such Legislation…there are no consultations planned because there is no legislation of this kind planned either.” Today McNeil said “make no mistake, in the fall there will be legislation that will be required to allow us to merge the nine district health authorities down to one.” When asked whether the government would table legislation to force nurses into one union, the Premier said “I think we’ve demonstrated, Rick, that we’ll act.”
“Such legislation would be unconstitutional and would make our shortage of nurses and other health care workers worse” said Jessome. “Instead of creating turmoil and picking fights with health care workers, the Premier and his ministers should be focused on fixing the problems in our health care system.”