Media Release: Conciliation breaks off; Capital Health prepares for possible strike

Thursday, April 5, 2012 - 12:14pm

(Halifax) – Following three days of meetings with a conciliator, talks between Capital Health and NSGEU Local 42 broke off today.

The talks settled a number of minor contract issues. Unfortunately there was little movement on the union’s part on wages and non-wage proposals with substantial costs attached, said Kathy MacNeil, vice-president, People, at Capital Health.

“We entered this round of bargaining with a focus on the sustainability of the health system as a whole, striking a balance between the interests of these employees with those of our patients and the taxpayers of Nova Scotia,” said MacNeil. “We were disappointed to see that in conciliation, union negotiators held firm on proposals that—applied across the provincial health care system—would add $128 million in annual costs for Nova Scotians.”

The union continues to seek wage increases totalling almost 11 per cent over three years for all 3,700 members of the local and additional increases of more than 14 per cent for some classifications. Another proposal calls for the introduction of health spending accounts of $400 per year for all members, above and beyond their current health benefits.

Capital Health tabled proposals that sought co-operation from the union as partners to improve the efficiency of the health care system and reduce avoidable costs, so that taxpayers’ dollars can be invested where it can make the most difference.

Now that talks have ended, Capital Health will intensify its contingency planning. Once conciliator John Greer files his report with the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, a 14-day countdown to a potential labour disruption will begin. A strike could begin as soon as April 25.

Capital Health will begin to greatly reduce services through this period in order to be able to safely operate with the emergency staffing levels available should members of Local 42 walk off the job.

We commit to keeping patients informed about service changes in the days ahead.