Nurses’ union recommends contract to RNs, psychiatric nurses

B.C. nurses will likely ratify a tentative two-year agreement with their employer.

B.C. nurses will likely ratify a tentative two-year agreement with their employer, according to B.C. Nurses Union (BCNU) Pacific Rim chair Jo Taylor.

“We’ve addressed the workload issues which was nurses’ No. 1 priority when we had meetings,” said Taylor. “They said, ‘Fix my workload and I don’t care if I get a wage increase. Fix my workload so that I can give that better patient care.’

“So the nurses at the end of the day will, I think, ratify this.”

The province’s 32,000 registered nurses (RN) and registered psychiatric nurses (RPN) will cast their votes on ratification on Oct. 18.

The tentative deal was struck late last week, and according to Finance Minister Mike de Jong, “It provides for modest improvements without adding costs for taxpayers and without sacrificing services to British Columbians.”

According to a BCNU news release, the tentative agreement features the addition of an equivalent of 2,125 more registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses by 2016, a wage increase of three per cent that kicks in by April 1 and a requirement for health employers to replace nurses who are off on leave from a scheduled shift, among other things.

Taylor pointed out the requirement for replacement of nurses off on leave is an important part of the agreement because oftentimes, in various institutions throughout the province, licensed practical nurses (LPN) ended up trying to fill the roles of RNs — when RNs have different responsibilities than LPNs.

She also used public health nurses in the Comox Valley as an example of how this change would affect workload.

“Public health nurses were not being replaced for their vacation, so we got language that stated that if a nurse goes off for two weeks or more that they have to be replaced, and so that’s a huge impact now on their workload because now it’s not going to pile up for when they return,” explained Taylor.

She added another part of the tentative agreement that would really affect the Comox Valley and in particular, St. Joseph’s General Hospital, is that when there’s patient overcapacity problems, like hallway care, employers would be required to call in more nurses to meet patient needs.

“They will also have to call in extra nurses, additional staff, for when there’s over capacity issues, so when they’ve got extra patients on the units or in emergency or in a pod somewhere extra, that they will bring in extra staff,” she said. “So that does have significant impacts for St. Joseph’s.”

According to St. Joseph’s General Hospital’s human resources co-ordinator Connie Hansen, the hospital currently employs 298 RNs and 18 RPNs.

St. Joseph’s president and CEO Jane Murphy said it’s difficult for the hospital to comment on the agreement because it is not ratified and she doesn’t have all the details, but she noted having more nurses is a good thing.

“Looking at additional nursing FTEs (full-time equivalents), the increase in nursing hours, you know, is likely a positive implication for health care,” said Murphy.

“We’re waiting to hear that it’s ratified and then get all the details and then from there, we’ll probably be working out some of those details at the local level.

“And of course we’ll work with our union to implement the changes.”

Taylor noted a part of the deal many nurses feel is a concession is a change from a 36-hour work week to 37.5 hours. She explained that about 20 years ago B.C. nurses negotiated to be paid for 37.5 hours per week, but actually work only 36 hours.

“A lot of nurses, they look at this as a bit of a concession, but ultimately what it’s done is we’re now working at the same level as all the other nurses across all of Canada,” she said.

The tentative agreement was endorsed by about 300 union executives and stewards from around the province on Tuesday. Taylor added the BCNU council voted in favour of it unanimously.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tailgate Troubadours perform for Comox Valley shut-ins during pandemic

When playing music with others is your main entertainment and diversion, and… Continue reading

Courtenay volleyball star added to Olds College roster

Gracie Walls of Courtenay has been recruited to play on the women’s… Continue reading

Tofino woman’s plan for medical school nearly derailed by health crisis

Tofino resident/North Island College alumna Nora Morrison is heading to the University… Continue reading

NIC online marine training accessed by mariners across the country

NIC was among the first post-secondary schools to receive approval for digital marine courses

Sale of Vancouver Island’s most remote pub falls through

Beloved Holberg pub and restaurant The Scarlet Ibis is back with previous owner

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

North Island-Powell River MP blasts government, VAC for benefit delays

Some injured service men and women have applied for the Canada Emergency… Continue reading

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

Beloved Island woman dies at 106

Dorothy Adair adored by the many people she met in Chemainus in two short years

Man arrested for allegedly pushing unsuspecting seniors, jumping on cars at Parksville mall

Cops arrest man after ‘aggressive incident’ at Wembley Mall in Parksville

Most Read