Leadership Notes

Message from RNU Executive Director

March 22, 2022

Preparing for Collective Bargaining

The Provincial Collective Agreement will expire on June 30, 2022.

It goes without saying bargaining will be a top priority for RNU this year. Given what our members are experiencing and the untenable pressures facing nursing, it will be vital to reach a deal that addresses recruitment and retention and is fair and respectful of our members and all that you have sacrificed.

While timelines around bargaining are unknown given extenuating factors including the pandemic, RNU is preparing on the basis that negotiations will proceed as normal.

In February, we put out a call for contract proposals to members. A call was also issued for volunteers to serve on the Provincial Negotiating Team. The team, comprised of RNs and NPs from across the province, will negotiate with the employer on behalf of members.

Orientation for the Provincial Negotiating Team will take place this spring. Team members include:

  • John Vivian, Chief Negotiator
  • Yvette Coffey, Provincial President
  • Wendy Woodford, Labrador-Grenfell
  • Maria Young, Western
  • Nancy Healey-Dove,  Central
  • Nicole Parsons, Eastern
  • Hedi Hother-Yishay, St. John’s
  • Tina Edwards, Community Health
  • Nicosia Brake,  Nursing Instructor
  • Margot Antle, Nurse Practitioner
  • Mike Fagan, Provincial Vice-President (observer)

In the months ahead, RNU will survey members, hold virtual town halls to discuss priorities, and prepare an opening package of contract proposals.

As we prepare for bargaining, we are closely watching what’s happening in other provinces.

Four of our sister nurses’ unions recently concluded new collective agreements. As you’ll note, the contracts include some unique approaches to address recruitment and retention.

United Nurses of Alberta (UNA)

  • UNA ratified a new deal in January. The term of the four-year agreement is April 1, 2020 – March 31, 2024.
  • At one point during the negotiating process, the employer was seeking a four-year agreement with a salary roll back of 3 per cent in year one, followed by zeros in each of the following three years.
  • In the end, a four-year collective agreement was reached, amounting to total increases of 4.25 per cent. Existing semi-annual lump sum payments were added to the salary scales, resulting in a combined increase of 6.9 per cent over the four years.
  • One-time lump sum payment of 1 per cent for all hours worked in 2021 in recognition of nurses’ contribution during the pandemic.
  • Other improvements include enhanced psychological supports, creation of a union-employer provincial workload advisory committee, and implementation of a Rural Capacity Investment Fund. The fund will allocate $5 million a year to recruitment and retention strategies in rural and remote areas of the province, and $2.5 million a year for relocation assistance.

 Manitoba Nurses Union (MNU)

  • Manitoba nurses reached an agreement in October 2021. They had been without a contract since April 2017
  • Wages will increase by 9.7 per cent over the 7 years of the contract. In addition, a 2 per cent new top step will be added to the salary grid retroactive to April 2021. An additional 2 per cent top step will be added in April 2023.
  • Signing bonus based on hours worked during the height of the pandemic.
  • All overtime at double time going forward.
  • Four million annually for recruitment, retention and education incentives.

Ontario Nurses Association (ONA)

  • Premier Ford’s government imposed legislation, Bill 124, limiting salary increases to 1 per cent a year. ONA is challenging Bill 124 in the courts and has joined other health care unions in calling on Premier Ford to repeal Bill 124 and develop a real plan to fix the worsening health human resources crisis in Ontario. ONA has criticized Ford’s government for introducing a one-time $5,000 payment for nurses, saying this exclusionary bonus won’t work to retain and recruit nurses and cannot be a replacement for salary increases.

NBNU was on the verge of strike action when they reached a collective agreement in December.  

New Brunswick Nurses Union (NBNU)

  • New Brunswick nurses had been without a collective agreement since December 2019. They were on the verge of strike action when they reached a collective agreement this December with the following highlights:
    • Five-year agreement with raises of 2 per cent a year commencing January 2020.
    • An 8.5 per cent retention amount added to the salaries of Nurse Practitioners retroactive to October 2020.
    • A new 1 per cent long service amount added to the salaries of RNs with 15 years of service.
    • An existing 3 per cent long service amount paid to RNs with 25 years of service increased to 5 per cent.
  • All overtime above equivalent full times hours increased to double time. Note that part time and casual RNs do not qualify for the double time until equivalent full time hours are worked.

Wages are always an important priority for our members.

Typically, the most relevant salary comparison data we bring to the bargaining table is where we stand in comparison to unionized nurses in the Atlantic Provinces. We use the equivalent of our general duty NS28 scale for RN comparison purposes.

Where do we stand today?

General Duty Nurses

Start Rate Top Rate Contract Expiry Date
36.46/hour 44.43/hour December 31, 2023
35.21/hour 41.48/hour Expired October 2020 (negotiations yet to start)
34.30/hour 41.84/hour Expired March 2021 (negotiating)
33.64/hour 41.65/hour June 30, 2022

Nurse Practitioners

Start Rate Top Rate Contract Expiry Date
49.91/hour 60.74/hour December 31, 2023
49.14/hour 57.46/hour Expired October 2020
51.08/hour 57.82/hour Expired March 31, 2021
43.57/hour 54.02/hour June 30, 2022

Note: Salaries do not include the 1 per cent fifteen-year premium and 5 per cent twenty-five year premium paid in NB, and 3 per cent twenty-five year premiums paid in NS and PEI. NL doesn’t have an equivalent long service premium. Salaries do not include NB raises to be implemented over the remaining two years of the collective agreement.

As we enter bargaining, we’re committed to keeping you informed. As always, regular bargaining updates will be provided to members as we move along the process. This round we will also hold live chats with members using Webex, RNU’s online meeting platform.

Given the current economic situation of the province and the vital need to stabilize the nursing workforce, we know it will be an extremely challenging round. But, as always, we will face it together. Strong and united.