The Alberta Labour Relations Board has ruled that portions of the Alberta Labour Code preventing Nurse Practitioners from being represented by a union violate the right to freedom of association guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In its 19-page ruling published today, the ALRB said that since the relevant section of the Code referring to Nurse Practitioners is in breach of section 2(d) of the Charter, individual applicants Jessica Wakeford and Rochelle Young are employees under the Code and therefore entitled to union membership.
The constitutional argument put forward by United Nurses of Alberta, Wakeford and Young in their application or a determination by the board that UNA can represent Nurse Practitioners employed by Alberta Health Services was not contested by any employer or government.
However, the ALRB panel suspended the effect of its finding on the constitutionality of the exclusion of NPs from union representation for 12 months “to allow the government time to consider its options in light of the Board’s decision.”
UNA was the union that represented NPs until 2003, when legislation passed by the Alberta Legislature deprived members of their important medical profession of their constitutional right to be represented in collective bargaining.
In addition to the constitutional argument on which the Board ruled today, UNA’s application argues that based on the ALRB’s policies, the common practice in other jurisdictions and the certificate naming UNA as the union for “all employees when employed in direct nursing care or nursing instruction,” it is the only appropriate bargaining agent to represent NPs.
UNA’s application also argues it has a strong community of interest with Nurse Practitioners because of its long history of representing Registered Nurses and Registered Psychiatric Nurses, the similar educational requirements of RNs and NPs, the fact members of both medical professions must register with the same regulatory college, and because NPs must first be RNs.
UNA continues to look forward to welcoming NPs back into membership.