United Nurses of Alberta is encouraged by Bill 4: An Act to Implement a Supreme Court Ruling Governing Essential Services tabled in the Legislative Assembly today by Labour Minister Christina Gray.
UNA supports new legislation that will protect the public and patients at the same time as it respects the constitutionally protected rights of health care workers.
Essential Services laws passed in 1983 removed the legal right to strike from all hospital workers, including nurses. Since then UNA has argued that nurses have the right to strike with reasonable measures to guarantee essential services as part of the collective bargaining process.
Recent rulings from the Supreme Court of Canada and the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta constitutionally protect the premise that all workers have a right to strike until such time they are deemed by the government, employer and union to be providing an essential service.
Under the proposed legislation, nurses will now have the right to strike provided that the parties involved first conclude an Essential Services Agreement to ensure the safety of Albertans before job action is taken. UNA has always provided essential services during past job actions.
A UNA senior management group will meet in the near future to review Bill 4 and plan for any changes that need to be made. UNA will be closely following debate about the legislation in the coming weeks.