Question Period highlight: Bill 1

September 30, 2014

Your NDP MLAs are hard at work in the legislature this fall, holding the government to account during Question Period on a number of key issues, including job loses since Stephen McNeil became Premier, and how the Liberals’ health board amalgamation distraction is causing their government to take their eye off what really matters – front line care. Here is a question NDP Labour Critic Frank Corbett asked Kelly Regan about her promise last spring that the Liberals would not introduce legislation like Bill 1.

FRANK CORBETT: Earlier in the Spring the Minister of Health and Wellness said that he wanted one union to represent all nurses and didn’t want workers to vote on which union they wanted to represent them. I will table those remarks. That sparked a question from myself to the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education and the minister’s response, “. . . there is no legislation of this kind planned” I will also table that. My question through you to that minister is, why does she think it’s okay to tell health care workers one thing and do the exact opposite?

KELLY REGAN: I thank the honourable member for the question. Yes, I did make those comments, but I would note that the member in question asked me if I had any plans to introduce legislation and I did not. I further went on to indicate that I had never spoken to the Minister of Health and Wellness about this issue. So that’s why I said what I did.

MR. CORBETT: Well, Mr. Speaker, that’s the first piece of information we got from this government in a long time – that the Minister of Labour and Workforce Development is out of the loop.

The minister promised Nova Scotians, “This government will respect the desires of the health care union members in which union they want to belong . . .” – I’ll also table that. So I want to ask through you, Mr. Speaker, for the minister to please explain how the government is keeping this commitment.

MS. REGAN: I thank the honourable member for the question. As I indicated at that time, I had had no conversations with the Minister of Health and Wellness about any potential legislation. I did know that this government was concerned about the concerns of health workers and I knew that we would want to consult with them, and that’s what happened during the summer. Thank you.

MR. CORBETT: You know, it kind of amazed me when I saw the bill yesterday and I saw that everything from mediation to arbitration landed on the lap of the Minister of Health and Wellness and not the Minister of Labour and Workforce Development. Now I understand how that loop works; it’s a very small loop. So instead of improving front-line care, this government is causing chaos in the very system it says it wants to protect.