Alberta Health Services has submitted a reply to the Alberta Labour Relations Board in response to United Nurses of Alberta’s application for a determination that the union can represent Nurse Practitioners employed by the provincial health care board.
The AHS reply states that the employer takes no position on the merits of UNA’s application but does raise concerns. UNA disputes the validity of many of the concerns listed by the employer in its response.
UNA’s application argues 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.
The union also argues that since it holds a certificate with the ALRB for “all employees when employed in direct nursing care or nursing instruction” by Alberta Health Services, employees of AHS who are Nurse Practitioners doing direct nursing or nursing instruction are members of UNA’s bargaining unit.
UNA’s request for determination notes that in no other Canadian jurisdiction are Nurse Practitioners precluded from organizing under the provincial labour code or from participating in collective bargaining. The Alberta exclusion resulted from amendments to the Labour Code passed by the provincial Legislature in 2003.
UNA 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 anticipates a resolution conference on the application will be scheduled swiftly.