March 17, 2009
FREDERICTON (CNB) - The following statement regarding collective bargaining in the nursing home sector was issued today by Minister of State for Seniors Brian Kenny.
"We are very pleased that the New Brunswick Nurses Union and New Brunswick Union, two of three unions in the sector, were successful in reaching an agreement with the New Brunswick Nursing Home Association. By accepting a two-year wage freeze to take effect at the end of their existing agreements, these groups responded to our call to work with government during challenging fiscal times.
"Government took a sector-wide approach, and worked diligently to facilitate an agreement between the New Brunswick Nursing Home Association and unionized nursing home employees. While government is not the employer, it provides the vast majority of funding that nursing homes require to sustain their operations.
"We are extremely disappointed that the New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), refused the Nursing Home Association's settlement offer.
"While recognizing the prevailing fiscal realities, we believe that the offer presented by the New Brunswick Nursing Home Association was eminently fair and reasonable. The offer included an average wage increase of 19 per cent over four years, and included general economic increases and adjustments for pay equity. This offer has now expired.
"A two-year wage freeze to take effect at the end of the four-year agreement similar to what the other two unions in the sector accepted under the current wage restraint policy, was rejected by CUPE.
"As a government, we are committed to doing what is required to ensure that our seniors are protected, and receive the quality, consistent care they need in nursing homes. We remain hopeful that the two parties will find common ground and reach an agreement.
MEDIA CONTACT: Judy Cole, communications, Seniors Services, 506-444-3522.