The province passed a bill today, March 1, to ensure Nova Scotia's most vulnerable citizens will not be put at risk by a labour dispute.
The first session of the 62nd General Assembly rose after a special two-day session to introduce and pass Bill No. 30, the Essential Home-support Services (2014) Act. The bill requires the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU) to discontinue its strike until an agreement is in place to provide essential services.
"Our first priority is to protect the health and safety of Nova Scotians, and ensure our most vulnerable citizens are taken care of," said Labour and Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan. "We're disappointed the parties weren't able to reach an agreement, and concerned that the union wouldn't agree to provide a minimum level of essential services during a strike.
"We have passed legislation that ensures patients and their families can continue to count on essential home support services during a strike."
The act requires NSGEU and Canadian Union of Public Employees locals, and the employers of home support workers, including Northwood Homecare Ltd. and VON Home Support, to provide essential services during a work stoppage or lockout.
Essential service is based on the risk of death or serious health consequences if the service is not provided, including services that may cause damage to the mental or physical health of the client.
"Government supports the principles of collective bargaining, but we also have a responsibility to ensure essential services are provided," said Regan. "We all value the important work home support workers do for their clients every day. This legislation gives Nova Scotians peace of mind, and sets out a reasonable process so patients and families know they'll get essential support, even during a strike. "
The Essential Home-support Services (2014) Act maintains employees' right to bargain collectively and take strike action, while ensuring the most vulnerable are protected in the event of a labour dispute.