Stephen McNeil rejects opportunity to avoid strike by nurses

April 2, 2014

NDP Labour Critic Frank Corbett says Stephen McNeil made a mistake by rejecting a proposal to appoint an Industrial Inquiry Commission. 

Earlier tonight the NDP asked the Liberal government to appoint the commission as a way to avoid a strike by nurses while preserving the collective bargaining rights of close to 40,000 Nova Scotians.

“Let’s just call it like it is,” said Corbett. “The Liberals botched negotiations with the nurses and now they are trying to save face at the expense of public health care. The Premier could have shown some leadership by accepting a reasonable solution – instead he chose to take labour relations in this province down a very dangerous path.”

Under Section 73 of the Trade Union Act the Minister of Labour can appoint a commission to explore labour issues, in this case nurses’ concerns over workplace and patient safety. A 90-day cooling off period would have been imposed on the government, Capital Health and the NSGEU. This would have meant the postponement of Bill 37 and the suspension of any job action on the part of the union or employer.

“Stephen McNeil had a chance to avoid a strike by nurses at the 11th hour and he tossed it aside,” said Corbett. “Regardless of what his talking points say, the Premier’s main priority is to cripple the collective rights of Nova Scotians.”

Corbett added, “I’ve been in politics for over 15 years and I’ve never seen a piece of legislation as draconian as Bill 37. There will be consequences for years to come.”