Nurses Protest Essential Service Legislation

Press Release

April 1, 2014

Halifax – Nurses at Capital Health are off the job to protest legislation introduced by the McNeil Liberal government—legislation that is the worst in the country and takes away rights for thousands of workers who care for Nova Scotians.

“This bill is by far the most regressive of its kind in the country,” says Joan Jessome, NSGEU President. “It forces 85-90% of nurses to stay on the job during a strike, giving employers the power to claw back benefits, and offers a form of arbitration that’s heavily tilted towards the province and the employer. Make no mistake, this bill takes away the rights of 32,000 workers in Nova Scotia.”

The bill also includes a form of arbitration based on “the Province’s ability to pay.”

“Essential services legislation creates conflict and chaos,” says Jessome. “Mr. McNeil had the power to get a deal and avert job action. Instead, he has chosen to sweep away the rights of nearly all health and community services workers in one far-reaching piece of legislation—legislation that, in other provinces, is already subject to constitutional challenge.”

Nurses are keeping their commitment to fully staff the ER, ICU, Cancer Care, Veterans and Hemodialisys units and to maintain a basic level of staffing in other units during this job action.

“Stephen McNeil and Capital Health may have chosen to play political games with patient safety by refusing to negotiate an emergency services agreement, but nurses will live up to their promise,” says Jessome.


The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union represents over 30,000 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, Joan Jessome, please contact:
Holly Fraughton, NSGEU Communications Officer
424.4063 (office)
471.1781 (cell)

, , ,

6 Responses to Nurses Protest Essential Service Legislation

  1. Stan Squires April 1, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

    I am from vancouver and i supports the nurses on strike at Capital Health.With regard to illegal strikes the canadian gov. considers all strikes illegal.Many workers have been legislated back to work here in canada.
    These nurses deserve the support of all people in canada.The essential services law is an insult to the nurses.This law should be condemned by everyone.The gov. is trying to turn the clock back to 19th century europe when all workers were treated like slaves.
    The health system in canada is in shambles and has been like that for a long time.It is the nurses and their union(NSGEU) that will improve the health system not the gov.The gov. is part of the problem.Labour and Capital got nothing in common. This has been proved many times over the years. Workers always had to fight for their rights.I hope other unions support these nurses also.This is an import fight for all people in canada.

  2. Deedee Slye April 1, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    Thank you Stan. We appreciate the support!

  3. Gayle K. Gray April 1, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

    Not that I know everything in this matter, but I can speak from the heart of experience over a lot of years with either a parent, sibling or another family member or close friend in the hospital for long periods of time over numerous times – a hospital is simply a place where most of us don’t want to be for very long and yet, can be grateful that we have the best health care system in the world given what the rest of world has to contend with. A hospital is where you rely on health care professionals such as our nurses and health care workers. They can make a huge difference in how that hospital or home care experience unfolds. It then becomes a team effort and it works best that way – we need each other. Isn’t it great to know you can exit that hospital room at night and thank God for nurses and staff that want and care to do what they do? I know I couldn’t do what they do, and that is one of the miracles of how we are all drawn to different professions. I have an immense amount of respect and love for these people because of years of interacting with them from a daughter, sister and friend perspective and continue to do. I’ve not met a nurse or home support worker I didn’t respect or appreciate. So there are two very critical sides here – the family or friend that we need to know they are being cared for in the best possible way and the nurses who need us to care about them by being heard and respected so they can serve the public to the best of their ability. These are the front line workers – they know what being is the trenches means – day in and day out.
    My Mom used to say to me – Gayle – you matter – you count and I share this message because we all count – we all matter in this situation – patients, nurses and home care workers, and the greater public.
    As a worker in a unionized position, I do, however, try to step back each time and consider things. I surely hope the way this dispute unfolds will truly not be in a way that is unkind or demeaning to our nurses and related workers or put our health system in jeopardy.
    All Canadians have benefited from the labour movement, and I’ve come to learn that in a different way from taking time to learn what it has meant to me as a Canadian resident. There is an opportunity here for government and the NSGEU to promote each mandate and agendas here.
    Can we demonstrate that Nova Scotia “gets it” when it comes to caring, respecting and listening to front line workers such as our nurses in this case while at the same time continue to govern responsibly to the best it can in these present times? Can we demonstrate through this situation what we are truly made of here, how we do it, how we can be a cut above the rest in Canada and inspire others? There can be a win win here if there is a will and desire to work this out, but not in a way that makes either side create a situation where the process results in all of us taking a hit to our own self-esteem because we do if we care about one another. I don’t think there is a single person out there that may read this who just can’t wait to go on a picket line. Building up is the way to go not on a downward spiral – we’ve come too far and much hard work by those before us to which we have all benefitted. There are countries that we all know about where residents, workers and the like have been given no voice or respect. We just cannot go there on any level. Let’s do what each are gifted to do, elected to and do it to the best of our ability. Please work this out. Prayfully submitted.

  4. Christina Hindle April 2, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    What is the difference between an essential service legislation and a nurse to patient ratio?

    I think we should be able to use the essential service legislation as an opportunity to prove our point about a nurse to patient ratio.
    If 85-90% of nurses are needed to provide essential services for patients in the event of a strike the same should apply for our patients EVERY DAY.

    • Holly Fraughton April 4, 2014 at 9:25 am #

      Christina, you’re right: this legislation absolutely contradicts itself. If you are a Local 97 member, please come to our meetings next week (Tuesday, April 8 and Thursday, April 10) to find out more about next steps!


  1. Concerned by patient safety, faced with government legislation, nurses walk off the job - April 1, 2014

    […] prepare to go on strike – here NSGEU – Nurses Protest Essential Service Legislation – here CBC News – Heart surgeries cancelled over Halifax nurses strike – here NSGEU – Nurses […]

Leave a Reply

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Facebook