VICTORIA - Nurses and employers have ratified a new two-year collective agreement that ensures patients and families continue to receive quality health care, while respecting government's Cooperative Gains Mandate.
"I am very pleased to see that the nurses have ratified this agreement that meets the needs of patients, nurses and the taxpayers," said Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid. "High-quality patient care is a shared priority of government and nurses. This agreement demonstrates a collaborative approach to providing quality services to patients and families."
The following italicized quote is from an Oct. 19 press release from the BC Nurses Union:
"BC’s more than 32,000 Registered Nurses and Registered Psychiatric Nurses have voted almost 85 percent to ratify a new provincial contract negotiated last month with health employers.
“This contract is a big win for safe patient care and safe staffing.” says Debra McPherson, president of the BC Nurses’ Union. “It will give nurses new tools to reduce heavy workloads and improve patient care by calling in nurses to replace those off sick or on vacation, improving nurses’ job security and hiring the equivalent of 2,125 more nurses.”
The contract contains “clear, enforceable provisions that recognize and respect the clinical judgment of nurses on when to call in more nurses to meet the needs of patients.
“For the first time ever health employers will be required to replace nurses who are off on leave from a scheduled shift, unless there are extenuating circumstances determined by the front-line nurse in charge and the manager. The criteria for calling in more nurses will be the needs of patients, not budget concerns.”
The agreement provides a three per cent wage increase offset through initiatives such as reduced over-time hours by moving to a 37.5-hour work week, leveraging savings through shared services, and continuing to drive down administrative costs, while also ensuring that patients continue to have access to quality care.
The agreement specifically targets nurse workload and improvements to patient care and supports the addition of 2,125 full-time nurses to the health-care system over the next four years. In addition, the agreement creates more regular full-time and part-time positions from casual pools and nurses and managers will now work together to address workload challenges.
Re-training options for nurses will target areas of need. A violence prevention committee will be established to improve training for nurses and workplace safety.
"The nurse's agreement is significant across the broad public sector and it demonstrates that even in these challenging fiscal times, the Cooperative Gains Mandate can lead to settlements without taking more money from taxpayers or reducing services," Finance Minister Michael de Jong said. "More importantly, it is one of the first to reflect the fact that we are going to see unique settlements in every sector and with each employer."
This is one of the first agreements reached under the B.C. government's 2012 Cooperative Gains Mandate. The 2012 Cooperative Gains Mandate applies to all public-sector employers whose collective agreements expire on or after Dec. 31, 2011.
The mandate gives public sector employers the flexibility to find savings from existing budgets to fund modest wage increases in a way that does not add pressure to the government's bottom line, does not add costs for taxpayers or ratepayers, and does not sacrifice services to British Columbians.