Bills 28 and 29 reach Standing Committee

Publish date: Tuesday, May 09, 2017

MNU president Sandi Mowat spoke at the legislative Standing Committee on Bills 28 and 29, calling on the government to respect and value the important contribution of nurses.

Bill 28, The Public Services Sustainability Act  proposes to impose four years of wage controls on all public sector contracts , including a two-year wage freeze. It will also restrict the ability to bargain other monetary benefits such as premiums, bonuses and allowances.

"What this bill says to nurses is that our work is not valuable," she said. "It sends a clear message that this government is more concerned with balancing their books than they are with ensuring that there are rewarding professional opportunities for nurses."

She went on to say that this bill is unconstitutional as it infringes upon  members’ right to free and fair collective bargaining and that nurses must be appropriately compensated to ensure a sustainable health care workforce is in place to meet the complex and ever changing health care needs of Manitobans.

The second bill, Bill 29, The Health Sector Bargaining Review Act  has the potential to cause significant disruption in the health care system, by reducing the number of bargaining units.

Mowat said that the current bargaining system works well.

"We bargain centrally and the resulting agreement covers the vast majority of our members," she said. "During every round of bargaining we strive to harmonize our agreements across the regions. The differences between agreements are often a result of unique features in the different facilities."

She then took the government to task over their repeated comments that the high number of collective agreements are a barrier to quality patient care. She said that the government's questioning of nurses’ commitment to safe patient care is both offensive and disappointing.

"As nurses our first priority is always our patients. Every time we go to the bargaining table, we push for improvements that would make things better for our patients," she said. "Misleading statements like these are unhelpful and quite frankly diminishes all the hard work and improvements that MNU and the employer have been able to achieve by working together."

MNU is strongly opposed to  Bill 28 and 29 and is calling on the government to rescind both bills.


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